While the state was recognized during the 2016-17 school year for a graduation rate near 90 percent, according to the State Department of Education, a breakdown by county showed outlying dropout rates for areas throughout southern West Virginia.

The WVDE reported for the 2016-17 school year, Fayette County had the highest dropout rate of all 55 counties at 2.27 percent. Raleigh County, at 2.09 percent, was ranked fourth highest, tied with Kanawha County.

Both Fayette and Raleigh counties were ranked much higher regarding dropout rates compared to other counties in southern West Virginia, including Summers, Nicholas, Wyoming, Greenbrier and Monroe.

According to a WVDE report, Summers was ranked at 1.73 percent, Wyoming at .64 percent, Greenbrier at .44 percent, Nicholas at .25 percent and Monroe ranked at a dropout rate of 0 percent.

Raleigh County Superintendent David Price said although school officials see there is a dropout tendency in the county, it has actually decreased within the last year.

“In 2017 it was at a rate of 101 students,” Price told The Register-Herald, “and this year it’s down to 68 students, and that’s something we’re really proud of.”

Price said when it comes down to it, school officials are more focused on the individual students and their education. He said the county works diligently to take note of at-risk students as early as elementary school.

“We recognize this issue and we’re trying to work through it. We work hard to provide our students with resources to push through this issue,” he said. “Things like this are always personal; you never know someone’s decision for feeling they need to dropout.”

Price explained Raleigh County offers graduation coaches to students as soon as middle school to help educationally develop at-risk students and credit recovery programs.

“We also offer an option pathway program that also aids in a student receiving their high school diploma as well as a certification through ACT, where they can learn a trade,” he said.

Although some counties in southern West Virginia are ranked higher than other counties throughout the state, WVDE reported that recent data show more students in West Virginia are graduating from high school when compared to previous years.

WVDE officials said several statewide initiatives contributed to the steady increase in the graduation rate, including the creation of the state’s “Early Warning System.”

The Early Warning System tracks 45 different indicators – the most important being attendance, behavior and grades – to identify students at risk of dropping out.

Although Raleigh County was ranked as having the fourth highest dropout rates, it also was marked with a graduation rate of a near 87 percent for the 2016-17 school year, according to a report from WVDE.

Liberty High School had the highest graduation rate in Raleigh County — almost 94 percent.

Fayette County was ranked with a graduation rate of 84 percent, according to WVDE, with Fayetteville High School the highest, at 93 percent.

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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