Newton-Conover City Schools has top 10 lowest dropout rate in No - myfoxcarolinas.com

Newton-Conover City Schools has top 10 lowest dropout rate in North Carolina

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NEWTON – The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has released its Annual Report of Dropout Rates. Newton-Conover City Schools improved by 80 percent from last year, decreasing from 45 dropouts in the 2011-12 school year to just nine in 2012-13.

"This was a one year turnaround that was dramatic,” said Aron Gabriel, assistant superintendent, Newton-Conover City Schools. “I didn't expect and I don't think very many people expected to be that dramatic of a drop in one year. There are a lot of things our schools were already doing that were positive in terms of just providing support for students and looking at the way that they can work with kids who are kind of marginalized and have unique needs."

The real change happened when the school board opted to reinstate the dropout prevention specialist position. Judy McLaughlin was hired to fill the role a year ago. She focuses on the needs of students who are at-risk for dropping out.

McLaughlin commented, "Once we identified the kids that were at risk, in regards to attendance or academic issues or emotional and social issues that often come into play, we provided targeted intervention for those students."

She has focused on developing relationships with students, staff members, faculty, parents and people outside the school.

“We have developed relationships with community partners to help to provide services for students,” she said. “I'm the liaison between the community and the school. The counselors at the elementary, middle and high schools are absolutely wonderful."

McLaughlin has also started dropout prevention programs at the elementary and middle schools.

"If kids are more than one grade level behind in reading or math, if they haven't passed a state EOG, if they do not have a parent or a family member who has graduated from high school, if there are other social or economic or personal issues, mental health issues that may come into play, those students are identified. If they have more than three of any of those risk factors, we definitely do everything we can to try and put them on a watch list and monitor them closely so that we can we make sure that they have the best possible opportunities for learning,” she said.

The plan for the future is to focus on helping students graduate, The hope is that the continued focus will help improve the ranking among the ten schools with the lowest dropout rate in North Carolina.

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