Education Politics

Escambia County losing high school students from year-to-year

January 16, 2013

There is good and bad news in the Escambia County’s public school enrollment statistics. The district’s enrollment increased by 174 students over the 2011-12 Fall enrollment.

Since the fall of 2009, Malcolm Thomas’ first full school year, the district has increased its enrollment by 59 kids –going from 40,610 to 40,669. I guess that qualifies as good news.

The bad news is the district is losing high school students from year-to-year. The drop from freshman to sophomore year is significant.

Last year, the district had 3,485 ninth-graders. This fall, the district reported only 2,775 tenth-graders —20.4 percent drop. The decrease wasn’t as bad for the junior class – only 7.8 percent, 217 fewer students. The 2012-13 senior class have 311 fewer students (11.5 percent) than the 2011-12 junior class.

In total, grades 10, 11 and 12 lost 1,238 students from last year to this year.

The losses are somewhat offset by the 513 more students enrolling the public high schools than were in the 2011-12 eighth grade –which are probably kids who enrolled into private schools for grades 6-8 and are returning to the public school system. Or maybe a lot of kids got held back in the ninth grade.

But let’s dig deeper into the numbers. In the fall of 2009, the district had 3,820 in its ninth-grade class. Now four years later, the district only has 2,391 seniors—a 37.4 percent drop. Some may have moved away, but also some moved in.

However, you look at it. The district has lost more than a third of its students from freshman to senior year under the current administration and school board.

No spin, just the cold, hard statistics.

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  • Observer January 17, 2013 at 10:04 am

    To add, my general observation is that in most school systems (not just dysfunctional ones), you have that big drop off between 9th and 10th grade. I googled it, and got several article about different states that had their biggest number of retentions at the 9th grade.

    That said, something is wrong in Escambia County High schools. Not sure what, but school grades show it. We have a lot of decent to good elementary and middle schools, but almost no decent to good high schools (except West Florida Tech). I think there needs to be a shakeup in their administrations.

  • Go get it January 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Great points Hazemotes and Observer. Let’s see if IN can dig deep and get to the bottom of the story. Kinda smells like PNJ driveby journalism at this point. May be a great story here – may not be.

  • HazeMotes January 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

    The numbers by themselves do not tell much of a story. You need to explain why the numbers are changing. Are they changing because of drop-outs, geographical relocations, or other reasons?

  • Redux January 16, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Face it – our school system is not equipped to handle local demographics. Kids are dropping out because 1) they are ill equipped to progress from an education standpoint and 2) neither they nor their overwhelmed single mom give a damn. Much easier to sell rock on the corner in Montclair and rob houses in Cordova Park and North Hill. The May brothers can’t do this on their own – they are keenly aware of the issues at play here yet the political will is not there to start the long road to meaningful improvement. Building more shiny buildings that we can’t afford to operate and maintain is not a sustainable community model. Wake the hell up – develop a plan to make meaningful, measurable progress then make your pitch for Restore funds to pay for it.

  • Observer January 16, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Not sure, but my guess is that it’s failure causing most of that. 9th grade is the biggest place for that to happen, and IIRC, it’s been that way a long time. Why? No social promotion allowed in high school.

    The real question is how is the total high school enrollment changing?