Dropping Out

Warren County has been moving steadily up the ranks in Pennsylvania when it comes to percentage of students opting to drop out of school.

The county has gone from a ranking in the mid-to-high teens in the 2007-08 school year to four consecutive years of top ten rankings according to Pennsylvania Department of Education statistics.

In the 2007-08 school year, 15 counties claimed a higher percentage of dropouts than Warren, which joined three other counties with a rate of 1.8 percent of students in grades seven through 12.

In the 2008-09 school year, Warren County’s dropout rate had risen only one-tenth of a percent, to 1.9 percent, but it was enough to propel the county to a tie for ninth highest rate in the state.

By the 2009-10 school year, the county ranked third in the state with a 2.21 percent rate. Only Philadelphia and Lehigh Counties reported higher dropout rates that year.

In 2010-11, the rate dropped to 2.2 percent and fifth highest in the state.

By the 2011-12 school year, the rate rose to 2.64 percent and only four counties reported a higher rate.

From being tied for 16th, the county dropout rate has risen to consistently place it in the top five statewide.

However, due to the county’s relatively low total enrollment numbers, a slight increase in the number of dropouts or a slight decrease in total enrollment can make a big difference.

For instance, 2,845 student were enrolled in 2007-08 and that number has steadily declined to just 2,458 students in 2011-12. A drop in enrollment of just over 14 percent in five years.

This means each individual student accounted for .035 percent of total enrollment in 2007-08 while each student accounted for .04 percent of total population in 2011-12.

This may not seem like a lot, until you consider Warren County’s move from a 16th ranking in 2007-08 to it’s ranking at third in 2009-10 only involved a dropout rate increase of four-tenths of a percent. In fact, the difference between the Pennsylvania’s lowest county dropout rate and its highest is usually only a few percentage points.

Still, the number of dropouts in the county is increasing despite a drop in overall student population. In 2007-08 only 52 students dropped out. In 2011-12, that number stood at 65. An increase of 25 percent.

Combined, a shrinking enrollment and a rising number of dropouts is helping drive Warren County toward a consistent place in the lead when it comes to dropout rates.