The number of students dropping out of Nevada high schools increased by almost one-third in 2001-02, compared with the previous school year, the state Education Department reported.
A new report found 6,136 students, or 6.3 percent of state high school enrollees, dropped out in 2001-02. Five percent, or 4,616 students, quit school in 2000-01.
Orval Nutting, Education Department evaluation consultant, said Monday that the 6.3 percent rate was the third-lowest since the state began keeping dropout statistics in 1988-89.
The survey found 2,862 seniors, or 13.5 percent, dropped out during the 2001-02 year. Five percent of freshmen, 4.4 percent of sophomores and 2.8 percent of juniors dropped out.
In Clark County, 7.8 percent of all high school students dropped out, including 17.4 percent of the senior class.
Douglas County had a dropout rate of 0.5 percent.
Nutting said some seniors drop out because they realize they won't pass the high school proficiency examination necessary to receive a diploma, and others take jobs in the gambling industry.
"Casinos are our biggest employers," he said, "and (teens) may think they are getting good pay as a dishwasher. All they want is a car."
Ken Lange, Nevada State Education Association executive director, said part of the increase could be attributed to school overcrowding and lack of resources for education.
"Kids who drop out are those who need focus and attention," he said.
Nutting said many dropouts return to school or pass a high school equivalency exam. In 2001, 5,036 adults in Nevada received general educational development credentials, including 2,367 people ages 18 to 24.
Among Hispanic students, the dropout rate was 9.0 percent. Among blacks, it was 8.6 percent.
Although no state-by-state comparison was available for 2001-02, Nevada's 6.3 percent would rank high among the 37 states sampled by the National Center for Education Statistics.
In its 1999-2000 report, the group found the highest dropout rates were 9.2 percent in Louisiana, 7.2 percent in Georgia, and 7.2 percent in the District of Columbia. Nevada had a 6.1 percent rate that year.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)