Dougherty drop out rate soars - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty drop out rate soars

May 11, 2006

Albany - - Dougherty County Schools' drop-out rate continues to rise, much higher than the state's drop-out rate. According to the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, nine percent of Dougherty County students dropped out of high school last year, compared to the state's 5 percent average.

When a student gets to high school, it can be a whole new experience. Many are able to adapt, some get lost in the shuffle and quit. High schools are trying to intervene so that it doesn't get to that point.

Laquana McCall is graduating from high school next week - headed to Tuskegee University on a full scholarship.

"I'm elated. I feel like it's a culmination of all my hard work for more than 12 years because I've been preparing for it since I was itty, bitty - saying my abc's so I'm really happy."

 But so many of her peers didn't make it to this point. They've fallen by the wayside - either flunked out or dropped out. Freshman Carlton Ford almost found himself there. His two months in high school earned him a 59% average on his report card. That's out of 100%.

 "I was scared to take it home because I knew my mom would be mad."

He says he wasn't ready for the transition from middle to high school.

"In middle school you can cram more because notes and studying for middle school tests wasn't hard to the point where I crammed and then test time I didn't know what to do but in high school cramming just isn't the thing to do, you can't do it in high school."

So he got into Albany High School's Grade Recovery Program - students come to school an hour early and get a second chance to bring up poor grades.  When students sign up for the program it's not a free for all. They have to sign a contract to prove their responsibility.

 "In the contract we write in that the students first 9 weeks grade will not be dropped. Its an incentive for them to try hard to make a high enough grade to balance that one out," says instructor Anita Tunstall.

 Carlton worked hard at it. That 59%came up to a 79%. That's like going from an "F" to a "B".

"It helped me in staying confident in school and keeping my grades up and gave me the know that I can do better than what I did."

It also showed him that he, too, can graduate from high school - just like Laquana. But he has to wait just a few more years.

Of the 12 students in his program, 10 successfully completed it this year. That means they wont have to dish out 300 dollars for summer school. Also in the contract, students have to agree not to get suspended from school, not to be absent more than once, and not to have more than two tardies.

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