More Washoe County students are staying in school, and officials credit involvement by parents, teachers and counselors.
New figures show the dropout rate among Washoe County high
school students fell to an all-time low of 1.9 percent during the
last school year. Better tracking of students also contributed to
the decline, officials said.
The percentage rate amounts to 358 students, down from 1,125
students who dropped out six years ago.
"The key to the trend is the word relationships,"
Superintendent Paul Dugan said.
"When adults - teachers, counselors principals and parents -
take the time to connect with students in a meaningful way, the
dropout rate is going to decrease.
"What we are seeing does not happen by accident," Dugan told
the Reno Gazette-Journal. "It happens because adults are not
letting kids drop out."
District officials cited a number of new programs that have help
lessen the dropout rate, such as online learning programs.
The district's more aggressive tracking of former students is
also a major factor, officials said.
The dropout rate represents the number of students enrolled in
the district during the previous year that have not returned to
school or are not enrolled in another Nevada district or state.
The more aggressive tracking is finding more students, thus
lowering the dropout rate, officials said.
"In the big picture, it's a combination of a lot of things that
are being done," said Michael Delage, assistant principal for
attendance and testing at Wooster High. "But the improved tracking
has as big of an impact as anything."
Keeping kids in school during the ninth and 10th grades is
crucial in reducing the dropout rate, many counselors and teachers
said. If students lack success or feel overwhelmed in their early
high school years, they are prone to drop out.
"They are either going to make it here or they are not," said
Stephanie Thome, a counselor at Wooster. "My job is to help them
stay on track academically and help them feel connected to the
school so they can experience success."
Some schools have instituted mentoring programs with older
students to help ninth graders feel more comfortable, said Jasmine
Jia, 16, a junior at McQueen High.
"Although this is our first year with the mentoring program,
other schools have been doing this," Jia said. "Our program is
rough around the edges but we will eventually get it polished to
where were can really help the freshmen.
" We want to show them that school is some place where people
actually care for them instead of being a terrible place to go,"