New Help For Dropouts

New Help For Dropouts

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioOn the whole, education officials say Utah's dropout rates are quite low.

Mark Peterson: "Generally, it's something in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 percent."

Naturally some school districts are doing better than others. According the Utah State Office of Education's Web site, the Jordan School District has a 4.5 percent dropout rate. Salt Lake City sits at 5 percent. Granite and Washington both have a 2 percent rate, while less than 1 percent of the students in the Nebo School District drop out. USOE Public Relations Director Mark Peterson says they're making changes in how they keep track of dropouts.

Mark Peterson: "With the new number we can keep track of them a little better."

Peterson says the old way of tracking students could lead to confusion on whether they stayed in school or not. He says a student's identification numbers did not always match from school to school.

Mark Peterson: "Say they moved from somewhere in the Granite School District to somewhere in the Jordan School District. They created a new number, and it was harder to track those."

With the new unified number system, Peterson says they'll be able to track a student's progress before he drops out. Other changes also are being proposed.

Dawn Kay-Stevenson: "The first recommendation is that we create an oversight, at-risk position at USOE."

Student Services Coordinator Dawn Kay-Stevenson says other schools are in desperate need of counselors.

Dawn Kay-Stevenson: "We heard last week from a counselor at Copper Hills, he has one to 612 students in a high school."

Nelson: "So he has to deal with 612 students?"

Dawn Kay-Stevenson: "612 students."

Education officials say parent teacher occupation conferences are effective in keeping students from dropping out, as are early individual sessions between teachers and students. Dropout rates are higher in some districts. Roughly 13 percent of 7th through 12th graders in the Ogden School district dropped out. According to the Utah Performance Assessment System for Students, Ben Lomond High School, in the Ogden District, had only a 64 percent graduation rate.

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