WS/FCS looking at options to reduce high dropout rate

WS/FCS looking at options to reduce high dropout rate
March 24
11:25 2022

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) has one of the highest high school dropout rates among the larger school districts in the state. Data provided by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) shows the dropout rate for WS/FCS was 2.66% for the 2020-2021 school year. The state average was 1.94%

When compared to other school districts in large metropolitan areas across the state (Wake County, Charlotte Mecklenburg County, Durham County, Guilford County, Cumberland County) WS/FCS has the second highest dropout rate. Durham County is first with 3.20% and Guilford County is third at 2.02%. Between the 2019-2020 school year and 2020-2021 school year the number of dropouts did drop from 542 to 443, but district leaders admit there is still work to be done. 

According to the state, a “dropout” is an individual who was enrolled in school at some time during the reporting year (2020-2021), but was not enrolled within the first 20 days of the current school year; and has not graduated from high school or completed a state approved program or transferred. Fredricca Stokes, assistant superintendent of student support, said throughout the school year and during the summer months, CARE Team members and graduation coaches went door to door trying to get in contact with individuals who were considered dropouts by the state and let them know they can come back to school.

“I would like to recognize our graduation coaches, our CARE Team … they were knocking on doors, they were inviting families back into our schools,” said Stokes while giving a presentation on dropout rates during a recent school board meeting. “They went out to the homes, they called phone numbers, and then went out some more. Our CARE Team and our social workers, counselors, and graduation coaches really focused in on the students to get them back in school. We don’t stop after day 20 because we know it’s important for students to come back, so we continue to look for them even after day 20.” 

Most students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County who drop out, do so as a result of absenteeism and lack of engagement. Stokes said many of the students feel like they missed so many days they feel like they can’t catch up. “Chronic absenteeism is a problem that we have to tackle as a district,” Stokes said. She said district leaders are looking at several different options to support students. 

“It’s not just about unexcused absences, it’s about excused and unexcused, because all of it is time outside the class,” Stokes said. 

Moving forward, each high school in the district will form and maintain an active dropout prevention team. The teams, which will consist of a principal and/or assistant principal, school counselors, social workers and graduation coach, will work on a tiered support model to address specific student needs related to chronic absenteeism. 

Each school will also develop a support plan for all students who dropped out and have returned to school. The support plan is designed to provide students and families with resources needed to ensure a successful transition back to school.

“For our students who left and came back, we can’t bring them back to the same old place, we have to make sure we bring them back to something different,” Stokes said. “Something different looks like making sure they have a mentor … so we’re looking at the mentors. If they’re behind in academics … we’re looking at tutoring. How do we have weekly sessions with the gradation coach to make sure we are providing not only the student but the family with any type of resources that are needed.”

To address students’ lack of engagement, district leaders are taking a closer look at some of the courses currently offered in local high schools. With what they have in place to support students who have dropped out and those at risk, Stokes seemed confident that the district is moving in the right direction. 

“I would say one dropout is one too many; however, we’re headed in the right direction,” Stokes said.

About Author

Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors