Monday, May 18, 2009

DROPOUT FACTORY: Wasilla High School

A Johns Hopkins University study named Wasilla High School as a "dropout factory".

KTUU Oct. 30, 2007
WASILLA, Alaska -- High school dropout rates remain an issue for educators and communities across the nation.

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University aimed to identify schools across the U.S. with particularly high dropout rates.

Several schools here in Alaska received failing grades. Of the 40 high schools in the state, seven made the list. One of them is in the Mat-Su District.

Students at Wasilla High School shuffle from one classroom to the next in a typical day. They stop at lockers between classes just like students at other schools and discuss the day's goings-on.

Today's conversations buzzed with news of a new distinction the Wasilla High students have earned, although it's not so noteworthy.

Wasilla High was named a "dropout factory" by the Johns Hopkins study.

"I know we're not a dropout factory, but somebody took some data and came up with that label for us," said Wasilla High School principal Dwight Probasco.

Probasco has been principal at Wasilla High for 15 years. He says hearing about the Johns Hopkins study came as a shock. He said he had heard nothing from researchers and didn't know of a community survey to gather the data.

The data used by Johns Hopkins researchers came from the National Center for Education and tracked senior classes for three years from 2004 until 2006.

Schools named as "dropout factories" by the study found that 60 percent or fewer of students who start as freshmen make it through their senior year.

Last year, Wasilla High's dropout percentage was 6.5 percent, a number much lower than the majority of all the schools in the Mat-Su School District.

"I do not believe that they're dropouts though," Probasco said. "I think the majority of them, wherever they go, are enrolling in another school."

The valley has a transient population. Students move in and out at all times during the year and enrollment drastically changes from one year to the next, according to Mat-Su School's director of education.

"We haven't been turning a blind eye to the fact that students do drop out of the Mat-Su School District and that we are accountable for keeping them in school," Susan McCauley said.

Susan McCauley says the school district has been focusing on ways to lower the drop-out rate for the last year.

She says there are three factors for dropouts in the Mat-Su District, including a history of failing grades, low standardized test scores and absenteeism.

Principal Dwight Pabasco dismisses the label of "dropout" factory and he can now void the example of Bristol Palin. Unlike her peer "Amber Baby" she didn't make the honor roll, but they did let her pass and remark 'that she was "point zero-zero-something" away from graduating with Honors' Seriously, who makes dumb remarks like that?

wasilla high school gun show
a solutely no *loaded* guns!

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