Paducah Tilghman: Dropout rate just 2%


Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Barry Stevenson
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson




PADUCAH, KY- Staring into a computer screen, Tre Bolden admits, "I'm struggling, it's really hard."

Bolden, 18, is working on English. It is one of the classes that is keeping him from graduating. The past four years at Paducah Tilghman High School have not been easy, but he is determined to succeed.

"I changed my mind around 2012 to do better," he admitted.

And the school wants him to do better. That is why he is enrolled in the school's 'Credit Recovery System.' Principal Art Davis says it gives students a second chance with some one on one attention.

"In a traditional classroom that kid has to wait, they get frustrated, they don't want to wait," he explained of the program that began 10 years ago.

During that time, he estimates, about 200 students have been able to receive their diplomas.

Since the start of that program, the district's dropout rate has been reduced from 6 percent to just 2 percent last year.

That's slightly below the national average. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education released a report citing a national dropout rate of about 3 percent. The study also reported the highest graduation numbers in nearly 4 decades. In the 1975-76 school year, according to the study, the nation boasted a 75 percent on time graduation rate. But, the 2009-10 year saw 78 percent of students finishing in 4 years.

Davis says it is because more schools like his are investing time and resources into their students. He says at-risk students are identified throughout the school year and every teacher in the building works with at least one of those students. Davis has also eliminated out of school suspension.

"We're not doing ourselves any favors. Teachers have to work twice as hard to get those students caught up and 9 out of 10 times it's not going to work," he said of the change.

"This is where they need to be," he said of keeping students in school.

And for Tre Bolden, Paducah Tilghman is where he wants to be, "If I wasn't here, I'd probably be in jail because I don't like alternative school at all."

Bolden is 8 credits shy of graduating this May.  He is hoping to go to college.