More than twenty-five years after the release of the landmark report, “A Nation at Risk,” the country’s educational system and the young people it serves remains at risk. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 16,804 students in grades 9 – 12 dropped out of school statewide in 2009-10. Pitt County Schools (PCS) accounted for 361 of these students – that is the equivalent of two students dropping out each school day.
The well-being and prosperity of our community and our country is dependent upon an educated workforce. Today, two-thirds of all jobs require post-secondary instruction. Yet, millions enter the workforce lacking even basic skills for success. When students aren’t equipped to succeed, we all pay the price. Nationally, the students who dropped out of school during the 2006-2007 school year will cost the U.S. more than $329 billion in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity over their lifetimes. These students are more likely to be incarcerated, rely on public programs and social services, and go without health insurance than those who graduate from high school.
In Pitt County, as with much of the nation, dropout rates are higher for males, minority students, students from low-income families, and disabled students. Statewide, students dropped out most frequently at grade 9, and among the top reasons listed were attendance at 41.1%, enrollment in a community college at 22.1%, and academic problems at 4.7%.