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No more falling through the cracks

Dropping out of DL High School?

They'll track you.

High School Principal, Steve Morben, and his staff are implementing a new tracking system for students who choose to leave the district.

In an effort to find out why students transfer out of Detroit Lakes, Morben began four years ago with the class of 2011 when they were just entering the ninth grade.

Every month, they collected data on who transferred into the school, who transferred out, and where they went.

After four years of compiling this information, the results are in on the current DL seniors.

According to the newly released report, out of the 209 ninth-graders who were enrolled in the fall of 2007, 48 of the original students left the district.

But 61 new students came in during that time, with 25 of them also eventually leaving.

This means, between the out-going and in-coming students, Detroit Lakes High School lost a total of 12 students in those four years.

Where did they go?

Here is what the report calls, "The Total Picture":

Out of the 270 new and former students enrolled in the class of 2011 at one time or another...

• 197 students are still enrolled.

• 27 have transferred to the Alternative Learning Center.

• 27 have transferred to other schools out of the district.

• 9 have transferred to an on-line school.

• 7 dropped out and did not enroll anywhere else in the district.

• 1 is an outbound foreign exchange student in Denmark.

• 1 is in prison.

• 1 is deceased.

This gives the class of 2011 a retention rate of 96.5 percent.

Morben says high school enrollment numbers are like a rollercoaster because there are so many alternatives now for students, like on-line and higher education.

He adds that although the retention numbers in Detroit Lakes are OK, he is still concerned about why certain students left.

"Out of the 12 students we went down, the ones I'd like to talk to are the seven who dropped out of school completely and the ones who chose to open-enroll in a neighboring district. I'd like to find out if there was anything we could have done differently to change that outcome."

Morben says he hopes to go one step further with this tracking system by conducting exit interviews with the students themselves when they leave so that he will get his question answered as to 'why'.

"Are we doing everything we can? This is why we have the mantra, 'whatever it takes.' We need to do whatever it takes to keep our students here."