Colleton Co. Schools graduation rates decrease, dropout rates increase

Colleton County Schools has the worst graduation rate in the Lowcountry.
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 10:03 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2022 at 11:20 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Many students did and did not return to school this year after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted in-person learning and sent kids home in 2020. One of the school districts most affected by this in the Lowcountry is Colleton County.

Colleton County Schools has the worst graduation rate in the Lowcountry. The 2022 South Carolina School report card, released earlier this week, shows this percentage has continued to fall since before the pandemic; and on top of that, they are now seeing a large number of students not returning to school.

“We had a significant number of high school students who decided not to return to school after COVID,’ Superintendent of Colleton County School District Dr. Vallerie Cave said. “So, that presented a challenge, but high school students across our nation experienced some struggles.”

Cave says Colleton County Schools reported 97 students that did not return to school for the 2021-2022 school year.

READ MORE: Expanding career-focused courses to high school students in Colleton County

The school board asked Kathy Shider, the lead school guidance counselor for the strict, where those students are and she says they either moved out of state, started working or started their own families.

“But we did contact all of the children on that list,” Shider said. “Some of them we were able to get into our summer school and they graduated for the summer, but the majority of them did not.”

In Tuesday’s board meeting, the district presented results from the 2022 South Carolina School report card.

When comparing last school year’s graduation rating to pre-pandemic years, the rate is at an all-time low at 72.8%. Both Colleton and Williamsburg were the only counties that did not meet the state average of 83.3%.

When looking at drop-out rates, Colleton County students in grades 7-12 have a 7.4% chance of dropping out. This is almost a 5% higher chance than 2019.

When the school board asked Shider how old these 97 students were that did not return to school, she did not give a specific age.

William Bowman Jr., chairman of the board of trustees, says getting kids in school is harder than it looks.

“We can take whatever measures and I know some people think it’s easy,” Bowman said. “It’s kind of like getting people to come to church. You can preach wonderful work, but you can’t make anybody come to church... So, these students that have chosen to forgo their education, we’re not talking about 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds, okay? We’re talking about young adults.”

He says this situation is unfortunate.

“And I’m passionate about this because we try to parent and we try to encourage parents to be a part of their student’s academic progress and academic success, but sometimes we fail,” Bowman said. “Sometimes we fail.”

District officials say high school students that can’t attend a regular school day because of a job or other responsibilities can opt for their Cap and Gown program that provides educational hours from 4:00-8:00 p.m.