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More students staying in school in Opp

Opp’s annual student drop out rate has decreased by more than half in its most recent report, officials said this week.

OCS Superintendent Michael Smithart said the number of dropouts for the system has decreased to six students from a 12 to 15 annual average.

Smithart said the school system was previously averaging about 12 to 15 per year dropouts over the last five years.

“Still, six is too many,” he said. “I think primarily it is the result of what we are doing at the school level,

“The regular classroom teachers and the graduation coach are working together on credit recovery and our students are benefiting.”

Smithart said studies show that once a student gets “off-track” for graduation, there is a 40 percent chance he or she will drop out.

“We are trying to avoid that,” he said. “It is important to remember that our board took a very bold step to use local funds to employ a graduation coach in light of the economic situation.

“We knew if we could decrease our dropouts, that the subsequent increase in enrollment would offset any costs and that has happened.”

Smithart said system employees would continue to work and maximize the flexibility of Alabama’s First Choice program, which was designed to enable every high school student to reach his or her potential.

It works to strengthen the curriculum for state schools and provides safeguards for those who struggle academically. Additionally the school system utilizes credit recovery, which provides course-specific, skill-based opportunities for students who have not mastered a specific part of a course, and other measures, such as the YES program.

Opp’s drop out rate has decreased more than half. | File photo