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      AISD continues to fight student dropout problem

      I t's an ongoing problem the state of Texas has kept track of for years, we're talking about the student dropout rate.

      But that's not just a problem the state faces. Amarillo Independent School District has also been keeping an eye on its student dropout rates. For the past several years, AISD rates have held fairly even with the average dropout rate across the state of Texas.

      "Our dropout numbers are very comparable to the state numbers so what that tells you is there's not something unique going on in AISD that really isn't happening in the rest of the state," Communication Program Director for AISD Holly Shelton tells Pronews 7.

      The most recent dropout numbers from the state and AISD are from the school year 2009-2010. They show the state experienced a high school student dropout rate of 2.4 percent while AISD saw a high school student dropout rate of 2.5 percent. Of AISD's nearly 8,700 students that year, that means more than 200 dropped out of high school.

      Shelton said the reasons for students dropping out of school are varied, from needing to help their families with money to feeling overwhelmed by classes or failing grades.

      "What we hear a lot of is the need for money in their family. They feel like it would be more productive to go get a job right now than to finish high school. Sometimes there are personal type circumstances that lead them in another direction," explained Shelton. "What research shows is that students in the 9th grade that start failing classes, they start feeling overwhelmed, understandably, and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel to keep moving forward."

      But no matter the circumstances, AISD is prepared to combat its student dropout rate with extra learning tools, program and even alternate class times.

      "We have different internet based education tools that allow you to make up the credits you missed. Or in the event they need to work a job during the day or have some childcare needs or whatever their situation may be they could actually come to school in the evening through the FLEX Program," said Shelton.

      Because finishing their education is so important to the success of the students' lives, Shelton said it's important for school officials to keep them as engaged as possible, so they'll not only finish school but also learn the value of an education.

      "It's out job as educators to get them involved, to help them understand why it's important to be there, to really make the lessons and the classroom experience engaging and interesting for them," added Shelton.