Yesenia Robles, a Chalkbeat Colorado reporter who covers K-12 school districts and multilingual education, has reported that individual school districts can use a “menu” provided by the state to demonstrate readiness for the next step. This menu includes standardized tests such as the SAT and the ACT, an extensive final project, or the completion of courses that allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. However, the dropout rate has risen to its highest level in four years, indicating that schools are still struggling to attract students and are still dealing with the consequences of pandemic-era schooling. Districts and schools are likely to identify needs that they may not have had in the past, according to experts.
In Harrison school district, where approximately 75% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, a measure of poverty, the graduation rate increased but has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Superintendent Wendy Birhanzel said dropout rates have remained low in Harrison due to work that had just begun before the pandemic, such as an early warning system that tracks multiple risk factors for students starting high school. Students who relied on a score to meet graduation requirements and who did not meet the necessary minimum scores had a limited time to demonstrate their mastery in another way in their final year of high school. Across the state, 10,524 students from grades 7 to 12 dropped out of school during the last school year, while nearly half of the 178 school districts registered a year-on-year increase in their dropout rates.
The dropout rate is an important indicator of how well schools are doing in terms of student engagement and retention. It is also an important factor in determining how well schools are preparing students for college and career readiness. In order to understand why dropout rates are increasing in North Central Colorado schools, it is important to look at the factors that contribute to this trend. One factor is poverty.
Schools with higher poverty rates tend to have higher dropout rates because students may not have access to resources or support systems that can help them stay in school. Additionally, students from low-income families may be more likely to take on part-time jobs or other responsibilities outside of school that can make it difficult for them to stay focused on their studies. Another factor is lack of engagement. Students who feel disconnected from their peers or teachers may be more likely to drop out of school because they don’t feel supported or motivated.
Schools need to create an environment where students feel connected and supported in order to keep them engaged and motivated. Finally, schools need to provide students with access to resources and support systems that can help them stay on track with their studies. This includes providing tutoring services, mentoring programs, and other resources that can help students stay focused on their studies and reach their academic goals. By understanding why dropout rates are increasing in North Central Colorado schools, educators can take steps to address these issues and create an environment where students feel supported and motivated. This will help ensure that all students have access to the resources they need to succeed academically.