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YUHSD dropout rate continues to rank among state’s best

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Yuma Union High School District’s dropout rate continues to remain among the best in Arizona.

According to Arizona Department of Education Accountability and Research data, the district achieved a 1.35 percent dropout rate for the 2019-20 school year; the third year in a row the dropout rate has declined. YUHSD’s percentage is nearly 2 percent below the Arizona state average of 3.3 percent. The national average is 5.3 percent. 

“I truly cannot think of a more rewarding indicator,” YUHSD Superintendent Gina Thompson said. “We certainly want it to be at zero, but keeping students in school is critical work and when we say ‘EVERY’ student this is what we mean. Getting to this point has been a combination of the hard work and dedication of our dropout prevention specialists, counselors, teachers, and all of our stakeholders. They make an incredible difference in the lives of our students.”

Yuma High School’s dropout rate for last school year reached an unprecedented low of 0.58 percent, which is the lowest in the district. While it has steadily declined since the school’s rate of 7.7 percent in 2010-11, it is only the second time in the last 13 years it has dropped below 1 percent.

“It’s a big deal for us,” YHS Principal Mike Fritz said. “We have a lot of at-risk students at Yuma High due to socioeconomic factors. Supporting all of our students is a ‘round the clock, team effort.”

All YUHSD campuses employ a dropout prevention specialist as part of their respective guidance counseling departments. The group of Yescina Cuming at Cibola, Monique Slaughter at Gila Ridge, Chris Reese at Kofa, Rigoberto Conde at San Luis, Nancy Dolezal at Vista, and Brenda Smith at Yuma have been nationally recognized and have presented about their strategies and successes in various education conferences across Arizona.

The district’s dropout rate was at 1.42 percent after the 2018-19 school year. Attendance taking protocols are closely monitored and audited by ADE to ensure that Local Education Agencies are meeting expectations of the state’s education body.

All rates are from June 30 of each fiscal year, but YUHSD regularly has its data at-hand thanks to the contributions of the district’s data team, which includes Terrie Bedoya, Dionne Harrison, Jesus Garcia, Melissa Ellegood, and Elvia Young.

“We are fortunate to have a regular feedback loop with no lagging data,” Thompson said. “Our data is current because of our teams working daily. They provide that data to our campuses, and they can immediately target at-risk students.”

Eric Patten