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Oklahoma City School Board members question numbers in dropout report

The percentage of students who drop out of Oklahoma City Public Schools has declined. In 2012, about 2.4 percent of students dropped out, compared to 3.7 percent the year before.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: March 6, 2013

• 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.