Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Officials: Programs in place to combat dropouts

Staff writer

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School officials say a myriad of programs are in place to combat a dropout problem that has Clovis High listed as one of 25 schools that accounted for the majority of dropouts among the state’s 230 schools last year.

According to the report delivered last week to the Legislative Finance Committee, Clovis High was tied for seventh with Highland High with 106 dropouts last year, but its dropout rate of 6 percent was 15th among the 25 schools with the most dropouts. The six schools with more dropouts than Clovis and Highland were all alternative and charter schools.

Deputy Superintendent Cindy Martin said using the proper measurement, which includes middle schools, the district’s dropout rate is 3.1 percent. Martin said the dropout rate has been around that mark for three or four years, and is down from more than twice that 10 years ago.

The report indicated that dropouts are more likely to be incarcerated or require public assistance in their lifetime. The report also showed that there were nearly 7,200 students who dropped out in the 2012-13 school year, and said graduating 2,600 of those students would result in a lifetime benefit of $700 million to state taxpayers.

The report to the committee noted that freshman and sophomores are usually the group most likely to drop out, but Martin said, “We don’t have a problem with dropouts at ninth grade. That’s not what hurts us.”

Martin said the existence of the CHS Freshman Academy helps, because it helps acclimate students to the opportunities and expectations of high school. The freshman academy also utilizes teaching teams, meaning all of the students assigned to the English teacher in Team A would also take math, science and other classes from teachers within Team A.

“As a team, we can meet with a parent,” Martin said. “As a team, we can tutor a student.”

The problem area, Martin said, is when students begin their junior year. A student can drop out without truancy issues at any time upon turning 18, or at the age of 16 with a parental signature.

“Their family needs the money, or maybe they need a job because they have children of their own,” Martin said. “We have night school, and we also have Choices Alternative School, where they can create their own educational program. We can put them in online classes, we can put them in dual credit (college) courses.

“Our ultimate goal is for students to not drop out. Our ultimate goal is for students to graduate. In this age, you need at least a high school diploma.”

If the student notes intent to test for a General Equivalency Diploma, the student must pass the exam in order to not go on the stats as a dropout.

In some cases a dropout can be chalked up to a statistical definition that may not reflect reality.

In the instance of the Gordon Bennell Charter School of Albuquerque, the dropout rate is 100 percent because it primarily serves incarcerated adults who are automatically enrolled as ninth-graders and normally leave within a year due to the completion of a sentence or transfer to another correctional facility.

In the Clovis district, Martin said, a family moved away a few years ago but left no information about their child who had attended Marshall Middle School. Though there were no indications the student dropped out, he was counted that way because the district had no documentation to prove he didn’t drop out.

Among the 25 schools that make up 53 percent of the state’s dropouts, a dozen are charter or alternative schools. The 13 traditional schools are among the state’s largest, with Bernalillo High as the only school that is not classified as either a Class 5A or 6A school by enrollment.