Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools reported 727 students as dropouts last year, and have located all but 96 of them. 

North Carolina’s definition of a “dropout” does not include students who transferred to another district, private, charter, or home school. These are students who were enrolled the year before but didn’t show up within the first 20 days of school.

Nearly 12,000 students in the state were considered dropouts last year. It’s typically up to school social workers and counselors to find out where they went and get them back.

WS/FCS Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Fredricca Stokes explained those efforts. 

“We're sending letters to family, we're asking them to reengage in school, we're doing home visits, we're doing phone calls, we're knocking on doors, to see, you know, where are they at," Stokes said.

The district was awarded a $382,300 grant from the state last year to help identify and locate students who haven't been showing up to class. The funds were used to contract with Teach Tech U, an education technology consulting company, to assist the counselors and social workers with outreach efforts. 

The 96 students that could not be found were reported as runaways, having moved, or simply “unknown.”

The students that were located stopped coming to school for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they decided to find a job, go for their GED, or were experiencing some kind of medical issue.

But Stokes said the most common reason was poor attendance. 

“Once we start seeing those absences add up, sometimes they know that they're not going to pass their class," Stokes said. "So it's like, 'Oh, my goodness, why should I stay anyway? I'm not gonna pass.'”

“Attendance issues” was the most commonly cited reason for dropouts in North Carolina last year, accounting for almost half of them.

Stokes said when that’s the case, the counselors try to develop an action plan with the student to get them back on track. 

“We can do extended days, and come after school to try to make up your time," Stokes said. "And so we talk with them, we meet with families, and we really talk about what are our options? Because we really want all of our students to complete and get their high school diploma.”

She says Teach Tech U and district staff have already started working this summer to re-engage students for next year.

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