Waterloo dropout rate decreases, but so does graduation rate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo dropout rate decreases, but so does graduation rate

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - Waterloo saw a markedly lower decrease in their dropout rate from previous years, but also saw a four-year graduate rate decrease as well, school administration said Thursday.

Waterloo Community Schools reported a 3.95 percent dropout rate for the 2012-2013 school year, a decrease from the three previous school years by more than a third.

The district's dropout rate was 6.64 percent in 2011-12, 6.31 percent in 2010-11 and 6.37 percent in 2009-10.

The state drop-out rate in 2012-2013 was 2.82 percent, a declined from the previous year's 3.2 percent.

The 3.95 percent in Waterloo represents 122 students, according to Waterloo Community Schools administration, which credits its Reconnect to Graduate Day on Sept. 7 with lowering that number.

"The 60 students that returned to school in September, after the Reconnect to Graduate Day, made a huge difference in helping reduce our dropout rate," said superintendent Gary Norris.

Eighty volunteers knocked on doors of students that hadn't yet finished high school or weren't enrolled in school as of Sept. 7 during Reconnect to Graduate Day.

However, it wasn't all good news.

Waterloo's four-year graduate rate dropped by 4.33 percent from the prior year, to 70.4 percent. The percentage represents the number of students who started high school in 2009-10 and graduated by summer of 2013.

Waterloo's four-year graduation rate was 74.79 percent in 2012, 79.07 percent in 2011, 74.71 percent in 2010 and 70.63 percent in 2009.

"We are never satisfied when any student drops out of school," Norris said in the release. "We will not rest until our dropout rate is zero and our graduation rate is 100 percent."

Norris added that the district provides other means for students to get their diploma besides coming to classes during the day at the high schools, including at Crossroads, online and in after-hours programs.

The state Department of Education says Iowa's overall high school graduation rate increased for the class of 2013, making it the third straight year the rate has climbed.

The department announced Thursday that fewer students also dropped out of school.

The graduation rate increased to 89.68 percent, up from 89.26 percent in 2012.

Although federal rankings haven't been released, officials note that Iowa's graduation typically ranks near the top in the nation.

Of Iowa's 316 school districts that have high schools, 54 percent saw increases, 4 percent had no change and 42 percent experienced decreases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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