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Education Leaders Look For New Ways To Prevent Dropouts

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 13 Nov 2012 05:33pm | comments
Martha Liddell.

Mississippi's dropout rate is ten points higher than the national average with four out of ten students failing to graduate with a high school diploma. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports education leaders in the state are trying to craft new approaches to get more students to graduate.

The dropout rate in the Columbus School district is 28-percent....Lower than the state average and on par with the national average but still too high for second year superintendent Martha Liddell.

Liddell is implementing a host of new programs at her district, targeting each drop out and crafting more flexible education plans to get them to graduation.

"Because many times when you have dropped out of school, you are not going back to that bricks and mortar building. You had something go on in your life that you do not want to go back to that high school. So we have put in an innovative approach where you can still get your high school diploma, but you can get it at a community center. You can get it at the Boys and Girls club. You can get it at your local church that has a center set up," Liddell said.

Liddell spoke to a group of education leaders at a dropout prevention summit in Jackson yesterday hosted by MPB.

For 16-year old Hilliard Jones, who attends Murrah High School in Jackson, the school atmosphere and pressure from peers is a big reason he has seen other students drop out.

"If you feel unsafe in school and as if there is no one to help you, What option do you see other than to just leave so you can be through with this situation so you can be happy amongst yourself?" Jones said.

Trecina Green with the Mississippi Department of Education says schools should be encouraged and supported to test pilot dropout prevention programs.

"We will be requesting some funds during this upcoming legislative session. Asking for dollars that our school districts will be able to apply for so that they will be able to help kids remain in school," Green said.

Green says one possible program more schools could adopt is allowing students to repeat subject areas where they are weak rather than repeating an entire grade.

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Martha Liddell.


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