YUHSD dropout rate remains low despite pandemic
Yuma Union High School District’s dropout rate for the 2021-22 school year fell by nearly a percentage point despite the state average climbing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the support of counselors, teachers, administrators, and dropout prevention specialists, YUHSD schools reduced the district’s dropout rate from 3.58 percent in 2020-21 to 2.85 percent 2021-22. The Arizona state average was 5.41 percent and the national average is 5.3 percent.
“While our dropout rates have consistently stayed below the Arizona and national average, the pandemic created a bit of an unknown,” YUHSD Associate Superintendent Lisa Anderson said. “Our numbers dipped slightly in 2020-21, but the work of our campus teams and the commitment to make sure that there are no barriers for our students helped get us back headed in the right direction. Of course, the work is never finished. Ultimately, our goal is to have that number at zero percent.”
Dropout prevention specialists work with teachers, counselors, and other staff members to intervene before students are considered “dropouts.” They are persistent and have one on one conversations with students who are losing motivation to go to school, make daily phone calls, and do home visits.
“I think that students were ready to come back to school after COVID-19. Most of the students I spoke to, missed their daily routine, missed their teachers, missed being able to play sports or join a club and most importantly they missed their social life,” Brenda Smith, dropout prevention specialist at Yuma High School said. “Being around friends and having those connections with other kids their age made them feel better.”
All YUHSD campuses employ a dropout prevention specialist as part of their respective guidance counseling departments. The group consists of Yescina Cuming at Cibola High School, David Reynoso at Gila Ridge High School, Edgardo Gonzalez at Kofa High School, Rigoberto Conde at San Luis High School, Arisbey Garcia at Vista High School, and Brenda Smith at Yuma High School.