?EDINBURG – News reports often provide a somewhat gloomy outlook when it comes to high school dropout statistics. However, an examination by the Region One Education Service Center of available longitudinal data within the past few years suggests trends in a more positive direction across the Region One service area.

Region One Education Service Center, which serves 37 school districts and 10 charter school systems in a seven county area along the Texas-Mexico border, has analyzed the data trends and works closely with its schools to ensure student success. Jack Damron, Region One ESC Executive Director, concedes that "While graduation rates are not yet where we would like them to be, school districts in the region have done significant work to close the completion rate gap through various recovery programs intended to provide opportunities for those students needing such support to obtain their high school diplomas."

Across the region, gains in the percentage of high school graduates has increased, while the number of students who have dropped out of high school has steadily declined, according to the 2009-2010 Texas Education Agency AEIS (Academic Excellence Indicator System) Report. The Texas Education Agency calculates the completion rates of Texas school districts by examining a cohort of students after four years in high school. Factored into the Completion Rate are four possible student outcomes including: student graduated, received a GED, continued high school, or dropped out.

“The message to students has always been that education is fundamental to a successful future,” says Damron. “School districts are increasing and enhancing their efforts to educate students and keep them in school. Our schools have greatly stepped up their efforts to ensure that students graduate, and graduate on time, and are providing specialized, highly-targeted assistance to increase student success while in high school.”

In fact, many Region One districts are enabling students to gain access to college coursework while in high school to promote increased interest, attendance and academic success leading to higher graduation rates, adds Damron. “This model has enabled many students to graduate from high school with numerous college hours to their credit, thus helping to bridge the connection between public education and higher education, while saving students and their families considerable tuition costs and giving students a tremendous advantage to be successful not only in high school, but in college and beyond. “

Through the combined efforts of the very committed educators across the Region along with parents, business, community, and higher education partners, Damron says the area will undoubtedly continue to see improvements in high school completion rates leading to increased numbers of college attendees and graduates, and greater preparedness in the workforce pool for the future.