Dropout rate at lowest since reports began

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Carson City's high school dropout rate was 2.1 percent for the 2000-2001 school year -- the lowest since reporting began 13 years ago.

Dropout rates were even lower in Douglas and Lyon counties, but the picture wasn't as rosy in Storey.

Overall, Nevada's dropout rate was at its lowest at 5 percent.

Principal Glen Adair attributes low rates to programs offered at Carson High School.

"We try to make everything we do not only relevant to the kids, but important," he said. "We emphasize that everyone must be here every day. We've just pounded that into them enough. They're listening."

He said the senior projects, a requirement including a research paper, project and public presentation, as well as the digital portfolios where students showcase their best work, show students the relevance of high school to their futures.

In Carson City, 54 of 2,532 high school students dropped out. Of those, 25 left in their senior year -- 4.8 percent of the graduating class.

And the percentage of high-schoolers leaving without a degree was less than half that in Carson City, Douglas and Lyon counties.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack McLaughlin said this year's statewide rate was 1.1 percent less than the previous school year and 2.8 percent less than the 1998-1999 school year when the rate was 7.8 percent.

The 5 percent figure equates to 4,616 students in grades 9-12 across the state with the largest number -- 2,282 -- leaving school in their senior year.

That is 11.6 percent of Nevada's 12th graders.

But to at least partially counter the figures, many who left without a diploma seem to return later. More than 4,100 adults went back and received their GED during 2000 -- fully half of them under the age of 19.

McLaughlin praised the school districts for their efforts to reduce the number of dropouts.

"Keeping our youth in school is critical because, without a high school diploma, young adults' opportunities are limited in the 21st century," he said.

The primary reason the statewide rate wasn't even better was the 5.7 percent dropout rate in Clark County, which has more than two-thirds of the total high school population in Nevada. In Clark, 13.8 percent of seniors failed to finish school.

In Douglas, the overall rate was 1.9 percent -- 43 of 2,257 high-schoolers. The 24 seniors who dropped out constitute 4.9 percent of Douglas's graduating class.

The story was similar in Lyon County where 1.8 percent of 1,929 high school students -- 35 in all -- stopped out. Lyon did a better job of keeping its senior class until the end. Only 9 of them -- 2.4 percent -- dropped out.

In Storey County, the numbers were skewed by the small high school population -- just 149 students. The 23 who dropped out make that county's rate 14 percent. Five of them were seniors for a 12.5 percent rate in the graduating class.

And while most county districts show their lowest dropout rates in the 9th grade, Storey suffered a loss of 27.9 percent in that class -- 12 out of 43 students.

According to figures released by the Department of Education, the dropout rate was lowest among white students -- just 3.9 percent statewide. It was highest among Hispanic students -- 7.9 percent. In between were African American students at 6.3 percent, Native American students at 4.5 percent and Asian and Pacific Islanders at 4.3 percent.

The lowest dropout rate in the state was in tiny Lincoln County where just 2 of 264 high school students dropped out in the 2000-2001 school year. That works out to eight-tenths of one percent.

Both were in the 10th grade which means the entire 72 seniors completed their high school education in Lincoln.


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