October is National Dropout Prevention Month and all Sarpy County school districts are below the national and state average for student dropout rate.
According to the Nebraska Department of Education, the dropout rate for Sarpy County’s two largest school districts, Bellevue Public Schools and Papillion La Vista Community Schools, is less than 1%.
Smaller school districts in Sarpy County, Springfield Platteview Community Schools and Gretna Public Schools, are also below the national and state average dropout rate with both schools having less than 1% student dropout.
The national dropout rate for high school students, according to the U.S. Department of Education, is 5.4%. The Nebraska average dropout rate for the 2017-18 school year was 1.16%.
BPS has several programs aimed at dropout prevention, including traditional summer school and Project Recovery, a program that allows students to work independently under teacher supervision to earn credits in core classes.
PLCS utilizes an online course work program, Apex, for students in summer school and throughout the regular school year.
The district also utilizes social workers to identify specific barriers that would prevent students from graduating.
Shureen Seery, assistant superintendent of curriculum, said the programs stem from the relationship PLCS attempts to build with every student.
“It’s a partnership that is focused on graduation and the next step,” Seery said.
Amie Christiansen, a school counselor at Platteview High School, said SPCS has several methods of outreach to reduce student dropout.
One way SPCS prevents dropout among students is the advisory program.
“Each teacher has 12 to 15 students in their advisory and it’s all about making a connection with the student and making them feel connected to their school,” Christiansen said.
She also develops lessons revolving around social and emotional health to add to the advisory program.
“They do grade checks and pull up each student individually and ask them how they are doing in school and what they can be doing to improve, and encourage and praise them when they do well,” Christiansen said.
SPCS utilizes another program known as the Trojan Academic Center.
“For the students who are kind of on the bubble, who are struggling in class or who have done poorly and failed a class, it gives them an opportunity to make up those credits,” Christiansen said.
There is no single reason why students do drop out of school, but Christiansen said some students might not see the value of education.
“We try to reach out to students and communicate to them why education is so important and how it’s going to help you throughout your life,” Christiansen said.
Roger Miller, director of student services for Gretna Public Schools, said while GPS does not have a lot of dropout prevention specific programs, it does retain a lot of its students.
“We don’t lose a lot of kids along the way,” he said.
Miller said he thinks one reason kids drop out is due to them falling behind in credits to a point of no return.
“Once they realize they can’t catch up with their class, it’s harder for them to stay in it,” Miller said. “Our school system works hard to make sure kids stay up with their classes.”