DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Kharryn Lobdell was bored.
It started in ninth grade when she began skipping classes here and there at Davenport Central High School. The skipping became more and more frequent to the point that Lobdell was barely in school.
“I was jobless, homeless, and I wasn't going anywhere,” she said. “I woke up one day and was lying on the couch and went, 'I'll go back to school.' I went back the same day, and I registered for classes.”
Lobdell, now 20, spoke about her experiences recently during Graduation Destination-Take the Journey: Finish it, a collaborative effort between the Davenport Community Schools and the City of Davenport to reach out to students who are struggling in school or have already dropped out.
Two years ago, Superintendent Art Tate formed a dropout prevention task force to look at ways to better reach out to students who have either dropped out or are at a high risk of doing so.
The group then launched a marketing plan to encourage dropouts to return to traditional high school and get their diplomas.
Last year, the district held an event that sent community ambassadors to the doorsteps of students who had dropped out.
The district's efforts are starting to pay off. In the 2011-12 year, the dropout rate for Davenport schools in grades 9 through 12 fell to 8.7 percent, down from 10.2 percent in the year before.
This year, the district wanted to try a new tactic: to focus not only on dropouts but also on current students who are at-risk, said Pam Kirsch, a learning support specialist with the district's dropout prevention program.
Kirsch said the community event is a new effort to get students the support they need, whether they are in school or have dropped out.
“Then, as we started looking at the problem more in depth, we realized that we need to be more proactive, and we need to look at the students who are already in our system and find out what we can do now before they even get to that point of dropping out.”
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