Dropout Prevention and Intervention

Graduating from high school is not only a strong predictor of adult success but also of adult physical and mental health outcomes and involvement with the criminal justice system, yet approximately 15% of students in North Carolina who enter high school each fall will not graduate within four or even five years.

North Carolina’s public school dropout rate slightly increased in 2014-15.  The state’s dropout rate rose to 2.39 percent (11,190 students) from 2.28 percent (10,404 students) the previous year. The .11 percentage point increase was the first increase in the dropout rate since 2006-07, when the dropout rate increased from 5.04 to 5.24.

What You Should Know -  Dropout Statistics in North Carolina

  • Students dropped out most frequently at 10th grade (30 percent), followed by 9th grade (28.1 percent).
  • The number of high school students dropping out increased at all grade levels and for all ethnic groups except Asian, which decreased.
  • Males accounted for 62 percent of reported dropouts, which was down from the 62.7 percent reported last year.
  • Attendance issues were again the reason most often cited for dropping out, accounting for 40.3 percent of all dropouts. Enrollment in a community college came in second at 15.8 percent.

10 North Carolina School Districts Reporting the Lowest Dropout Rates

Newton-Conover City Schools (0.19)                                    
Hyde County Schools (0.61)                                      
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (0.67)                 
Union County Schools (0.99)                                    
Macon County Schools (1.03)  
Clinton City Schools (1.05)
Washington County Schools (1.08)
Graham County Schools (1.09)
Currituck County Schools (1.13)
Yadkin County Schools (1.17)

For information on dropout rates for your school/district and other key findings, consult the 2014-15 Consolidated Data Report

The Difference Between Graduation Rate and Dropout Rate
In considering the annual dropout rate, it is critical to note that this rate is not the same as the four-year cohort graduation rate. The cohort graduation rate follows a group of ninth graders across four years’ time and reports the percentage of these students who graduate four years after beginning high school. North Carolina high schools reported a record-high 85.4 percent four-year cohort graduation rate for the class of 2015.

The annual dropout rate illustrates the number and percentage of students who drop out during one year’s time. Some of these students may return to school the following year and complete high school while others may drop out multiple times. The four-year cohort graduation rate is considered a more comprehensive picture of the issue of students’ persistence and high school completion.

NC Community College Adult High School Program
The State Board of Education revised policy GCS-Q-000 allowing districts to code students transitioning (withdrawing) from a public high school to a community college Adult High School diploma program as W2T.  Following specific guidelines, W2T students (dropouts) may be included in a school’s dropout count but excluded from the dropout calculation.

Tab/Accordion Items

Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation’s Schools:  An Unprecedented Look at a Hidden Educational Crisis
Education can only fulfill its promise as the great equalizer—a force that can overcome differences in privilege and background—when we work to ensure that students are in school every day and receive the supports they need to learn and thrive. Release of the U.S. Department of Education’s 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection, drawn from nearly every public school in the country, helps us understand who is chronically absent, at what grade levels chronic absenteeism tends to occur, and how chronic absenteeism compares community-by-community and state-by-state. 

PowerSchool At Risk Report  
Determining when students enter the "at risk zone" can often be challenging. The At Risk Report available in Home Base provides North Carolina schools and districts the capacity to design early warning reports with research-based, locally-selected risk indicators. The report delivers a listing of courses, sections, and grades associated with students currently at risk of failing for the current term. This information allows administrators, student support staff, and teachers to take a proactive approach prior to the end of term and ensures student accountability. Access to report programming and execution is determined by local district administration. 
select the document below for step-by-step instructions on how to run the At Risk report.

PowerSchool Diploma Assessment Report
The diploma assessment report allows districts and schools to monitor the progress of selected grade levels in fulfilling graduation requirements. This report is available in PowerSchool. We encourage school and district teams to utilize this report to monitor student progress and as a preventative tool to identify students potentially at risk.

Implementation Rubric:  Using Early Warning Systems to Identify and Support Students at Risk of Dropping Out of High School 
EWS Implementation Rubric

Implementation Interview:  Using Early Warning Systems to Identify and Support Students at Risk of Dropping Out of High School
EWS ImplementationInter view

In North Carolina, the at Risk Report and Diploma Assessment Report available in PowerSchool provides schools and districts the capacity design early warning reports to help school teams identify and support students at risk of dropping out of high school.  Developed specifically for North Carolina by American Institutes for Research, this Implementation Rubric and companion Implementation Interview:  Using Early Warning Systems to Identify and Support Students At Risk of Dropping Out of High School focus on the use of early warning systems as a means of identifying students at risk of no graduating. 

Note:  Interview may be used as a standalone document.

NAEF Research Grants
The National Art Education (NAEF) awards grants to support research that advances knowledge in the field of art education and promotes the goals outlined in the document, “Creating a Visual Arts Research Agenda Toward the 21st Century.”  Grants are awarded to art educators whose proposals specifically focus on issues relating to one or more recommendations in the document.  NAEF encourages proposals for search that supports the impact and importance of art education in student learning with hard data to back up findings.  
Deadline:  October 1.

National Dropout Prevent Center
Each month, NDPC/N publishes links to selected current funding opportunities.  You may subscribe to Dropout Prevention Update and receive this information right in your mailbox.

Education and Technology Program School Station Grants
The Education and Technology Program (ETP) of American Radio Relay League (ARRL) provides funding and resources to elementary, middle, and high schools in the United States. ETP School Station Grants are awarded for the purpose of purchasing equipment to set up a school amateur (ham) radio station. To qualify, a school must provide a plan to use ham radio as part of an enrichment program or classroom learning.
Deadline: November 1.

The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation
The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation supports programs in arts, community, education, environment, health care, and peace. Recent awards include music lessons for people with disabilities, children’s theater, learning center, writing education, afterschool and summer activities, literacy programs, and services for at-risk children and youth.
Deadline: November 30.

Educational Assistance and Training Programs
The Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation (CICF) encourages the creation and expansion of learning experiencing and opportunities at the primary, secondary, and higher education levels, particularly for minority and disadvantaged students. Areas of special interest to CICF include educational and training programs designed to improve literacy, teach basic life skills, promote good citizenship and public services, and increase reading, mathematics, and science proficiencies.
Deadline: Rolling.

Andrew Family Foundation’s Junior Board Grants
The Andrew Family Foundation Junior Board seeks to fund public, nonprofit organizations under section 501(c)(3) whose purpose is focused on positively impacting the lives of youth. The board aspires to help people enrich their lives by providing opportunities for education in traditional academics and the arts. Preference is given to well-established organizations with five or more years of operating experience (unless a board member has familiarity with the organization) and organizations with a budget of less than $5 million.
Deadline: Rolling.

Brooks Brothers Donation Requests
Brooks Brothers seeks to support the communities within and beyond the areas it serves by accepting requests for donated items to be used in auctions, raffles, and other fund-raising events. Requests from local and national nonprofit organizations focused on improving communities through health, education, and the arts are accepted.Organizations can submit a request for a donation directlyonthe website. A resource is also available to download on the website to help applicants get ideas about items for an auction or event fund-raiser.
Deadline: Rolling.

Sony Corporation of America Grants
Sony Corporation of America and its operating companies offer funding to programs that support education and creative, artistic, technical, and scientific skills that are necessary for tomorrow’s workforce. Previous education grants have funded a wide range of environmental media teaching and research projects; meaningful environmental education events and programs; quality education programs for at-risk students; arts and arts education; equipment for educational nonprofits and academic institutions, including major colleges and universities across the country; youth mentoring educational programs to teach students about workplace etiquette and various careers available in the technology and entertainment industries; and multiple other mentoring opportunities, including one-on-one, school-based, or in the workplace. Eligible applicants are nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. Priority is given to efforts that promote literacy and basic educational competency.
Deadline: Rolling.

Ford Foundation Grants
The Ford Foundation provides grants for projects and programs in three broad areas: (1) advancing knowledge, creativity, and achievement, (2) reducing poverty and injustice, and (3) promoting democratic values. Project activities must be educational, scientific, or charitable to be eligible for funding.

Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement
"Excellence in Teaching and Learning" 
March 20-22, 2017
Sheraton Four Seasons/Koury Convention Center 
Greensboro, NC

2017 At-Risk Youth National Forum 
February 19-22, 2017
Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Restorative Practices:  Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools (A Guide for Educators)
This toolkit is intended for all educators who support the growth and health of students in schools.  It includes digestible models, frameworks, and action steps for school-wide implementation, accompanied by guiding questions to support reflection for practitioners looking to make restorative methods a part of the fabric of daily life in schools.

My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Success Mentors Initiative
MBK Success Mentors Initiative is a groundbreaking response to the challenge of chronic student absences in our country.  The initiative is the nation’s first-ever effort to scale an evidence-based, data-driven mentor model to reach and support the highest risk students—using existing resources already linked to schools, and the early warning metric of chronic absenteeism to drive student success.

North Carolina Dropout Prevention Toolkit:  Reviewing Data to Improve Graduation Outcomes
What can you and your school do to ensure that students graduate college and career ready?  Developed for North Carolina schools by the American Institutes of Research, this toolkit provides guidance on specific steps for data analysis, questions and discussions to guide improving graduation outcomes for students in your district.   

Parent Engagement Toolkit
Parents and caregivers are among the most important stakeholders in a child’s educational successes.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance developed a toolkit to provide a set of resources to effectively reach out to parents, solicit their perspectives and engage them in the development of strategies leading to educational success for their children.

Strategic Planning to Improve the Graduation Rate
System Renewal is one of the 15 Effective Strategies published by the National Dropout Prevention Center.  This webcast shares how one school system has used this process of planning and continuous review of results to help keep students in school.

Strategies for Creating Socially Inclusive School Communities for ALL Students 
Barbara Oswald, director of Youth Initiatives & Program Development for Special Olympics South Carolina, facilitates a webcast to help navigate connections between inclusive school climate strategies and dropout prevention initiatives. Learn how Project UNIFY empowers all youth as change agents through a combination of sports and education in schools across the country.

Diplomas Count 2016: Report and Graduation Rates
When Education Week published its first Edition of Diplomas Count 10 years ago, national high school graduation rates were all over the map.  Consistent with long-term trends, members of the class of 2014 from historically disadvantaged racial or ethnic groups and those with distinct educational needs are much less likely to finish high school.  
This special report examines graduation results by state and “tried and true” principles of school improvement, and highlights stories from districts across the country that have integrated those principles into innovative new designs for high schools.

The Role of Parents in Dropout Prevention
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Institute on Community Integration
University of Minnesota

Identifying students who are most likely to drop out is not a precise process.  Some students with no risk factors leave school, and some with many risk factors complete school. Although risk factors are not precise predictors, parents should be aware of them.  More importantly, parents should become involved or seek assistance if they repeatedly see risky behaviors such as skipping school, failing classes, having significant discipline problems, or being involved in illegal activities.

Engaging Families and the Community as an Alternative to Expulsion:  An Alternative Approach to Dropout Prevention  Webcast

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
Family support is important to a child’s or adolescent’s success in school.  There is also growing awareness of the importance of providing prevention and intervention strategies for students who are at risk of being suspended, expelled, or of becoming disengaged from the educational process for social or emotional reasons.  This webcast provides an overview of a school district’s efforts to focus on the family dealing with discipline problems and providing alternatives to expulsion.


Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Parents and Community as Partners in Educations (Parts 1-4)
This toolkit is designed to guide school staff in strengthening partnerships with families and community members to support student learning.  Available from Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Pacific.

  • Part 1: Building an Understanding of Family and Community
  • Part 2: Building a Cultural Bridge
  • Part 3: Building Trusting Relationships With Families and Community Through Effective Communication
  • Part 4: Engaging All Data in Conversations


GradNation Community Guidebook
Guidance, resources and tools to help your community and your schools raise graduation rates and better prepare young people for success.


Leading by Convening:  A Blueprint for Authentic Engagement
This document provides a blueprint for authentic stakeholder engagement, including tools to help teams improve engagement.  The tools and information can be applied to any topic.

In 2015 the State Board of Education revised Policy GCS-C-039 directing the Department of Public Instruction to include in the four-year and five-year cohort graduation rates any student who receives a standard diploma awarded in collaboration with a community college; signed by the college president and the local district superintendent or charter school director.

Effective March 2015, the Board aligned Policy GCS-Q-000 allowing students withdrawing from a public school and enrolling in a community college Adult High School (AHS) diploma program to be coded “W2T” (reason code CCAHS).  Though still technically dropouts, students coded as W2T are included in a school’s dropout count but not in the school’s dropout statistics for that year.

Coding students as W2T requires districts to verify and document a student’s continuous enrollment in the AHS program (fall and spring semesters). If a W2T-coded student does not maintain continuous enrollment, the withdrawal code must be changed to W2, and the student must be reported as a dropout and included in the statistics.  Therefore, a dropout who is reported as W2T for the current year dropout collection (and not counted in current year dropout statistics) will be counted in the statistics in a future dropout collection if continuous enrollment is not maintained, verified, and documented by the district. 

Adult High School students identified as W2T will be listed along with all other dropouts on the Verified Dropout report in PowerSchool.  These students will be excluded from the numbers used in the PowerSchool Dropout Calculation and Summary by Gender/Ethnicity reports and from state-reported dropout statistics.

Schools are not required to participate in the W2T process of special coding and tracking of these students.  Instead, schools may choose to continue coding students leaving for Adult High School programs with reason code COMM and without using the W2T designation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do AHS students county toward the school’s and LEA’s graduation rates?
  • Should a student who fails to maintain continuous enrollment in an AHS program, is counted as a dropout, and later continues in the AHS program, be recoded as a W2T?

The answers to these and other frequently asked questions can be found in the document FAQ.

NC Community Colleges - Adult High School
Implementation Guide and Affiliation of Agreement