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Limestone, Morgan schools get dropout prevention funds

By M.J. Ellington · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Two area school systems and one high school got help this week in their efforts to reduce dropout rates and boost graduation numbers.

The Alabama Department of Education will give $200,000 to the Morgan County School System and $100,000 to the Limestone County School System through the Preparing Our Students for Success program, said education Superintendent Joe Morton.

In addition, Tanner High School in Limestone County was one of 25 Alabama schools with graduation rates lower than 95 percent to receive funds to reduce dropouts through the Dropout Prevention Advisor Program.

Both programs are for the 2007-08 school year.

The Morgan and Limestone systems are among 38 in the state to receive Preparing Our Students for Success funds.

The program’s goal is to help students make a successful transition from elementary to middle school, and then from middle school to high school, Morton said.

School researchers determined that transition times in a child’s school years are critical periods that help define how well the student does at the next level of schooling. Successful transition is a key long-term factor in whether a child graduates from high school, said Ruth Ash, deputy state superintendent for instructional services.

Warning signs

Ash said there are some specific signs that give educators clues that a child may be in danger dropping out. The markers include repeating a grade in grades 1 through 8, moving from one school to another in high school and receiving two or more F’s in coursework in the freshman year of high school.

In middle school, Ash said, signs of dropout potential include behavior problems and failure in subjects including math and English.

Tanner and other schools in the Dropout Prevention Adviser Program will have a dropout prevention advisor to work with school personnel, families and other agencies to give students the motivators they need to avoid dropping out.

Morton said the dropout prevention advisers would act “much like a graduation coach to guide, direct and encourage students.”

The dropout experts will identify at-risk students, develop transitional programs and develop relationships among schools, the community and families to help encourage students.

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