Members of the Oklahoma City School Board challenged the honesty of a report about the number of high school dropouts in the district during a meeting Monday night.
District officials reported a dropout rate of 2.4 percent for 2012.
“What my concern is that we're manipulating numbers,” District 6 board member Jay Means said. “I'm just going to be candid. There's just no way.”
School board Vice Chairman Phil Horning said the dropout numbers for the district's predominantly black schools were unrealistic.
Horning cited Douglass, Northeast Academy and Star Spencer, which had a total of three dropouts.
“That's just implausible,” Horning said. “I made this same comment about Douglass last year. ... Or, to their credit, are our African-American seniors hanging in there?”
“We should be a national model if these numbers are true,” Means said. “We should be getting national recognition.”
Four schools had no dropouts: Classen School of Advanced Studies, Northeast Academy, Pathways Middle College and Star Spencer.
Capitol Hill High School had the highest number of dropouts and the highest percentage of dropouts. Last year, 69 students — about 7 percent of the student body — dropped out.
The numbers for the remaining high schools are:
• Douglass: 3 students, or 1 percent.
• Emerson: 32 students, or 6 percent.
• John Marshall: 9 students, or 2 percent.
• Northwest Classen: 30 students, or 3 percent.
• Oklahoma Centennial: 11 students, or 3 percent.
• Southeast: 22 students, or 3 percent.
• U.S. Grant: 68 students, or 5 percent.
District 1 board member Bob Hammack said the data didn't match numbers submitted to the state Education Department.
The report the board received Monday night documented 235 dropouts, though the district reported nearly 400 dropouts to the state, Hammack said.
Oklahoma City Superintendent Karl Springer said the difference could be attributed to those students enrolling in other schools since the state report was made.
The district dropout rate has improved in recent years.
The 2012 rate of 2.4 percent compares to 3.7 percent in 2011 and 3.2 percent in 2010.
The drop reflects a concerted effort to help students in recent years, said Linda Toure, executive director of secondary schools and reform for the district.
Toure said three specific efforts have been the most effective:
• Career academies. Students have the option of attending specialized high school academies that prepare students for college or the workforce in areas such as health and finance. “Our career academies are playing a significant role in what we're doing in connecting students with the world of work ... and helping students see that they have bright futures,” Toure said.
• Academic rigor. Teachers have been in training about how to identify students who are struggling and how to help those children catch up, Toure said.
• Attendance advocates. Some high schools have employees whose job it is to reach out to students who are chronically absent. They work one-on-one with students who are missing class, Toure said. “When they're absent, they are missed, and there is someone who will make contact with them,” Toure said.