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Middletown Transcript
  • Appo posts one of state’s lowest dropout rates, highest grad rates

  • The Appoquinimink School District recorded one of the lowest dropout rates in state during the 2012-2013 school year, while also posting one of its highest graduation rates, according to a Delaware Department of Education report released last week.
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  • The Appoquinimink School District recorded one of the lowest dropout rates in state during the 2012-2013 school year, while also posting one of its highest graduation rates, according to a Delaware Department of Education report released last week.
    Appoquinimink recorded just 19 dropouts out of 2,786 high school students enrolled at its two high schools last year, a rate of 0.68 percent.
    That’s significantly lower than the statewide rate of 2.9 percent during the 2012-2013 school year and a 66 percent reduction from the 2011-2012 school year when the district saw 56 students quit high school after their 16th birthday.
    Appoquinimink trailed only Delmar Public Schools in terms of lowest dropout rates among non-vocational school districts in Delaware last year.
    Delmar recorded a dropout rate of 0.7 percent in 2012-2013, although that district includes only two schools and little more than 1,300 students – a student population less than a third of Appoquinimink’s.
    “We’ve never had a large dropout rate to begin with, but the decline over the last year did coincide with some measures we recently undertook to further reduce the number of dropouts that we did have,” said Jeff Klein, Appoquinimink’s coordinator of research, development and evaluation.
    Based on the recommendations of a committee tasked with addressing the district’s dropout rate, the Appoquinimink school board approved a plan in early 2012 that includes the creation of a warning system that identifies at-risk students starting as early as kindergarten.
    “What we did is identify predictors like low attendance, academic difficulties and retention at some point in a student’s life,” Klein said. “Based on that data, we began identifying students and forwarding those names on to academic disengagement liaisons at each one of our schools.”
    Students identified as at-risk of dropping out are now then provided additional intervention services, like the option of taking classes with the Groves Adult Education Program and access to a self-paced, computer-based program that helps them improve in areas where they might be struggling.
    “The goal is to help students who have fallen behind realize that they can make up for lost time and graduate with their peers,” said Voni Perrine, the assistant principal at Middletown High School. “Students meet with members of the team on a regular basis to review their coursework, celebrate progress, identify challenges and maintain a positive focus on long-range goals and objectives.”
    Using intervention programs to help keep high school students in school also has helped Appoquinimink maintain one of the highest graduation rates in Delaware.
    For the 2012-2013 school year, Appoquinimink recorded a graduation rate of 86.5 percent, well above the statewide rate of 79.9 percent.
    Graduation rates are calculated by tracking a group of students, referred to a cohort, through all four years of high school. The rate represents the portion that graduates within four years.
    Page 2 of 2 - Appoquinimink’s graduation rate for the prior school year was third in the state among non-vocational districts, behind only Delmar and Indian River.
    Yet the district’s graduation rate fell from 91 percent during the 2011-2012 school year.
    “We increased our graduation requirements, which could have caused a slight decline in the rate,” Klein said. “But it’s hard to make judgments on a single year of data. It’s possible it might have been just a blip, but we’ll be monitoring it closely to make sure it’s not a trend.”

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