ND working on the dropout issue

Oct 12, 2017

Officials with the state’s Department of Public Instruction say North Dakota is doing well in terms of the number of students who finish high school on time.

"Our overall graduation rate is staying fairly stagnant," said Joe Kolosky, the Department of Public Instruction's deputy director of the Office of School Approval and Opportunity. "It's increased about .10 percent in the last four years."

Kolosky said the on-time high school graduation rate is right around 90 percent.

"One of the biggest jumps in the last four years is with out Native American population," Kolosky said. "That graduation rate has increased about 5 percent."

"That's one of the best in the nation," said state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

The Department of Public Instruction sponsored a “Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement Summit” at the state Capitol. IT was a pre-workshop to the annual fall education conference.

Kolosky said DPI is working to get the completion number closer to 100 percent.

"We have several strategies," Kolosky said. "We're working with school districts, gathering feedback and partnering with whomever we can."

Baesler said one of the problems  is what she called a “Sense of Learned Hopelessness” among some high school students.

"If a student is not successful in freshman English, the student would have to come back the next year and take both the freshman and sophomore years of English," Baseler said. "They get to the point where they feel they will never get the credits taht they need in order to graduate. So we have to find a way to make them feel competent and engaged, so they feel school is going to work for them."

Baesler said some students feel they don’t get enough support at home – and that causes some to quit. She said the challenge will be to find strategies that work for all students.