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State's student drop-out rate increases

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — A new report shows a slight increase in Mississippi’s dropout rate/

The state Department of Education yesterday released figures that showed the graduation rate for this past year was 71.4 percent and the dropout rate was 16.7 percent.

The results compare with a graduation rate of 72 percent and dropout rate of 16 percent for 2008 and 73.8 percent and 15.9 percent in 2007.

The rate in 2006, the first for the current method of calculating the graduation-dropout rate, was 70.8 percent and 17.6 percent.

Tom Burnham, who became state superintendent of education earlier this year, said the state’s goal of reducing the dropout rate to 13 percent by 2013 is still attainable.

“School districts across the state have adopted programs aimed at keeping students in school and on a path to graduate,” he said in a statement. “Legislation passed over the past few years will also help address this issue.”

Burnham said the new academic and accountability standards put in place by the board will help in reducing the dropout rate, which the state board, elected officials and business leaders have identified as one of Mississippi’s top priorities.

The graduation-dropout rates do not include students who might have completed their coursework to earn a special education certificate. They would be included as “completers.”

For the past year, the state’s combined completer-graduation rate was 79 percent. When the 79 percent completer-graduation rate and dropout rates are combined, it still does not account for 100 percent of students.

The difference could include students who finished in five years or those who died while still in high school.

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