Good News on Dropouts

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

More of Oregon's high school students stayed in school last year than the year before - and the year before that, and the year before that. For the fourth straight year the percentage of dropouts fell. In 2001-02, the statewide rate was 4.9 percent, down from 5.3 percent the previous year.

That's the good news from the Oregon Department of Education. But though the decline is encouraging, a 4.9 percent dropout rate translates into 8,160 Oregon teenagers who, for any number of reasons, left school before graduating.

Locally, last year's dropout rates ranged from zero in the Triangle Lake district to a high of 7.6 percent in the Elkton district. Several high schools in the area had extremely low rates. These include Pleasant Hill High at 0.2 percent (the same as 2000-01), Crow at 0.8 percent (up from zero the previous year), Mapleton at 1 percent, and Central Linn, Churchill, Harrisburg, Sheldon, North Eugene and South Eugene at between 1 percent and 2 percent. Mapleton had the most dramatic turnaround, falling from 7.7 percent in 2000-01 to 1 percent last year. In a small school district such as Mapleton, of course, even one or two students leaving school can have a big impact on the dropout rate.

Students drop out of high school for varied reasons. Some can't sustain their studies because of a dysfunctional home life or substance abuse. Others leave because of pregnancy, parenthood or discipline problems. Still others work too many hours at a job, or simply fall so far behind that they give up hope of earning enough course credits for graduation. …