Red Clay Drop Out Rates Hit Historic Low

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April 07, 2017
Red Clay Consolidated School District
1502 Spruce Avenue
Wilmington, DE  19808 *   (302) 552-3700
Mervin. B. Daugherty, Ed.D., Superintendent
March 31, 2017 

For immediate release


For additional information, contact

Pati Nash, public information officer, (302) 552-3716

Red Clay Dropout Rate Hits Historic Lows
From the personal touch - to nationally researched interventions - Red Clay has successfully applied numerous strategies to bring down the numbers of students dropping out of school to historic lows.
The district has taken a systemic approach, with dropout prevention efforts beginning at the elementary school level through high school and beyond.
The progress has been noteworthy. Recently released data from the Delaware Department of Education shows that Red Clay had a dropout rate of .9 percent in the 2015-2016 school year, lower than the state average of 1.4 percent.  The district has reduced dropouts by more than 25 percent since the 2009-2010 school year.
“The strategies and programs may vary at schools, depending on student needs,” said Superintendent Merv Daugherty. “But all programs look to identify kids in danger of not succeeding and address their needs. We do not give up on children easily.”
An organized effort to create new dropout prevention programs was launched in 2009 when the district created the office of District and School Services to expand prevention programs and monitor those already in place.
In 2011 the district formed the Red Clay Dropout Prevention Committee, which has strived to identify the root causes of why a student would leave school and create programs and supports that directly address students’ issues.
Members of the committee include Board of Education members, school representatives, parents and community agencies to bring a global perspective to the causes that impact student success.
The committee created its plan based on fifteen research-based strategies defined by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.
Strategies to prevent a child from dropping out include academic support for low performing students, home visits over the summer for students with attendance or behavioral issues, counseling, outreach and supports for parents, coaches at the school and recognition and incentive programs to reward student progress, among others.
“Our biggest strength is in the way we monitor kids in terms of their academics, attendance, and discipline to do early identification of kids that may be potential dropouts, and implement intervention strategies,” said Ted Boyer, director of the dropout prevention program.  “We have people that have been in the schools a long time and they get to know the kids. Students work with an adult, or a group of adults that show they care about them. It motivates students to want to do well in school, and goes a long way toward keeping them in school.”
The district also has in place programs to help students who have left school earn their diploma with state-approved courses online.  Other students who have made little progress toward earning the required 24 credits to graduate can also make up courses. These “Credit Recovery” programs are available in schools, at community centers in Wilmington, and offer flexible hours and an alternative setting.
Every Red Clay school has its own dropout prevention plan, and team. Staff at the secondary level meet with students who express an intention to leave the system. Parents are asked to join the meeting, and students are encouraged to take advantage of programs such as Credit Recovery to stay in school.
Red Clay also communicates to students that it is the expectation they will graduate in a variety of ways, from schoolwide assemblies, signs in all schools that ask students where they will attend college, to dressing each 9th grader in a cap and gown for a photo.
“Eight years ago we didn’t have all of these programs in place,” said Boyer. “As time goes on, we see the numbers coming down. People are paying attention.”
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