WakeEd

The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Wake County school system sees improvement in dropout, suspension and violence rates

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Newly released figures today show that the dropout rate, student suspension rate and school violence rate all improved this past school year for the Wake County school system.

In the 2011-12 school year, Wake had 1,099 reported criminal acts, or 7.531 acts per 1,000 students. The prior school year, it was 1,132 acts, or 7.952 acts per 1,000 students.

Click here for this year's school-by-school figures. Click here for last year's school-by-school figures.

In terms of suspensions, Wake had 14,223 short-term ones and 403 long-term ones for the 2011-12 school year. That compares to 17,339 short-term suspensions and 577 long-term suspensions in the 2010-11 school year.

Wake had seen a sharp decline in the number of suspensions the past few years, particularly long-term ones. Some credit the scaling back of zero-tolerance policies while others charge it's because Wake is sending students to inadequate online programs in lieu of giving long-term suspensions.

Wake also saw a 10.8 percent decrease in the number of high school dropouts.

In the 2011-12 school year, there were 1,236 dropouts and a dropout rate of 2.83. That compares to 1,386 dropouts and a dropout rate of 3.25 in the 2010-11 school year.

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where could we have been in 4 more years

if Tony had stayed? We would have honestly been the best public system in the nation.

Firing Tata

A huge mistake with long term repercussions. In the short time he was at the helm, Wake County students benefitted in ways that can be, and have been, easily documented - quite different from what we've experienced in the past.

I hope the citizens of Wake County will stay vigilant and carefully monitor the search process and ultimate choice for a new superintendent. The School Board members that voted to fire Tata should be held accountable.

Dropouts

Wake also saw a 10.8 percent decrease in the number of high school dropouts.

I wonder how much of that was due to the 9th grade centers.

More of the Tata legacy that

More of the Tata legacy that will quickly be reversed.

Simpleton

The trend to lower drop out rates has been for a couple of year now. Tata did nothing. The state drop out rate decreased by 12%, Wake County by 10%. You can then say that Tata did not keep up with his peers.

I'm trying on the new more

I'm trying on the new more softer, more civil me so I hope this doesn't come out wrong but what the heck are you talking about! I dug a little deeper and found that WCPSS's dropout rate has only dropped once in the past decade and that was 2008-09 followed by a 1% increase and then this major drop of 10%. Prior to that, under Burns and the Dem controlled BOE, it either went up or stayed the same all the way back to 2002-03. Do you mind explaining what you meant by the trend has been for a couple of years now?

Drop out trend

Following is the link to the ncdpi website.

http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/research/discipline/reports/consolidated/2010-11/consolidated-report.pdf
920 Wake County
Year # %
06/07 1647 4.21
07/08 1689 4.17
08/09 1430 3.47
09/10 1494 3.53
10/11 1386 3.25
11/12 1236 2.83

2003 to 2006 the drop out rate increased, as did the whole state. These were times of record growth, especially in the new majority. Back then it was easy to drop out and work construction. That option is gone and kids realize it is better to stay in school.

Ahh...fair enough. I was

Ahh...fair enough. I was linked to a previous years report and didn't realize I was missing the 10/11 year data. However, that's a 13% decrease (from 10/11 to 11/12) which is slightly higher than the state's 12.3% decrease. Where did you get 10% decrease for WCPSS? I could be missing something...

10%

The 10% was printed in the report and in the blog but doing the math, you are correct with 13%. So WCPSS did do better than the state average. Good for us.

Well...actually it's not so

Well...actually it's not so simple. In the previous year, WCPSS's dropout rate slightly increased by 1% while the state dropout rate dropped by 12%. So...it may be more accurate to say Tata was bring WCPSS up to the rest of the state.

Too much credit

You give to much credit or blame to the top guy when it comes to student success or failure. Student success is won in the trenches with good teachers, principals, student and parent engagement. The administration is to support the schools - stay out of the way and make sure the back office works. This means getting kids to school on time and making sure they get home safe - not abandoning kids on the side of the road. Getting textbooks in the classes - not six weeks after school starts.

to make it even worse we have to give Tedesco

credit for the ED Task Force and all the toothpaste that was squeezed out of the tube and can't be put back in. John revealed it, Tony did something about it at a systemic level.

I am assuming you have been on on some higher level committees, maybe even Chuck's super secret assignment committee. So, those of us who have seen the inside of central office know that the leadership controls 1) the flow of information 2) the direction staff takes on issues. Historically, under Del and Donna information was hidden ("there is no disparity in math placement") and even misrepresented (Victoria Curtis cutting the number of long term suspensions in half). So yes, blame and credit have to be given to those at the top.

If the top guy doesn't mean

If the top guy doesn't mean so much, why do we pay CEOs, superintendents, and other top guys so much money? Why does Coach K get paid so much when he never even suits up?

As jenman say, it's because they set the tone. One of my first managers in the corporate world tole me that it was his job to make those under him perform well. If we did our job well, then he did not have to worry about his job.

By all reports, Tata was admired by most of the faculty.

While I agree that the hard

While I agree that the hard work is done in the trenches, the top guy sets the tone and expectations. Personally, I think that changing the mindset from the deficit model was huge. It started with the new board before Tata came on board, but he really helped move it along.

Improvements?

Must be because Evans threatened the kids, Martin yelled at them and Sutton told them to "STFU" and get on with it.

How did you know about that

How did you know about that being the way the "potential dropouts" are treated?

As I read the article, I suspected the numbers looked better due to homebound education, Charter schools, a change in reporting criteria and, on a positive note, Mr. Tata's influence.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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