PEORIA - According to the Illinois Report Card, numbers show fewer students are graduating from local high schools, and there are not many schools in Central Illinois immune to the decrease.
Some of the biggest declines include Dunlap, which went from 100 percent in 2009 to 90 percent in 2013.
Limestone saw a 12 percent drop in those four years, and the most significant drop in the area is Peoria District 150. It went from 86 percent to 71 percent.
But this could all be due to a new state requirement that better reflects the number of dropouts.
“When kids quit coming to school, we normally have found ways to reach out to them, but then when they’re out of the school, they’re not on our numbers. And now with new legislation, we count every kid,” Regional Superintendent Beth Derry said.
“A policy shift certainly affects the numbers especially over the last four years for most of the school districts in Peoria County,” she said.
No matter the reason for the graduation rate decrease, the Office of Education is always looking for ways to keep children in school.
“We don’t want any child to drop out. If you drop out of high school, your chances of earning high wages, your chances of being employed go down significantly,” Derry said.
She is working with schools to offer options to those students who may not thrive in a traditional school setting.
She said they also try to intervene before a student drops out, visiting the homes of kids with several unexcused absences.
And the county’s alternative high school, Peoria Regional, has helped 70 students who were about to drop out stay in school and get their diplomas.