McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 23, 2013

Study shows Okla.'s dropout rate keeps shrinking

SEAN MURPHY
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's dropout rate fell to 2.4 percent during the 2009-2010 school year, a full percentage point below the national median that ranks Oklahoma 14th in the nation for the lowest high school dropout rate, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report from the U.S. Department of Education shows Oklahoma's dropout rate has steadily declined since the 2005-2006 school year, when it was at 3.6 percent.

Oklahoma tied with Vermont in the study that ranks the dropout rate for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The study defines a dropout as a student who was enrolled at any time during the previous school year who is not enrolled at the beginning of the current school year and has not successfully completed school.

"This report is another indication that while we are making progress, more work remains," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said in a statement. "With full implementation of Oklahoma's education reforms, we will see additional progress."

Since Barresi took office as part of a Republican sweep in 2010, the GOP-controlled Legislature has implemented several changes in the state's education system, including a new A-through-F grading system for public schools and a bill to require third-grade students to demonstrate reading proficiency before advancing to fourth grade.

The study shows Oklahoma's average freshman graduation rate, which is an estimate of the percentage of high school students who graduate within four years of first starting the ninth grade, was 78.5 percent in the 2009-2010 school year, slightly above the national average of 78.2 percent.

A demographic analysis of Oklahoma's freshman graduation rate shows Asian/Pacific Islander students had a 100 percent average freshman graduation rate, followed by white students at 80.7 percent, American Indians at 76.9 percent, Hispanic students at 70.7 percent, and black students at 68.8 percent.

Overall, Tuesday's study shows New Hampshire had the lowest dropout rates at 1.2 percent, while Arizona had the highest at 7.8 percent.