WAKEFIELD — Encouraging news was reported at last night’s school board meeting.

Though it is the mission of Guidance Director AJ Beebe, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike and other administrative staff to have every student graduate, the high school dropout rate is trending downward.

Over the 2013-2014 academic year, only five members of the senior class did not receive diplomas, according to Beebe. A year ago, the figure was double that. Ten students from a class of over 200 students reportedly dropped out over the 2012-2013 academic year.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, three students who left school without graduating were enrolled in specialized programs, said Beebe. One student returned for a fifth year of school but did not complete studies. Two others lasted less than a full school year, while three completed MCAS tests.

Two students were invited back and are eligible for a GED (General Education Development) diploma.

Beebe said he contacted the students over the summer months and is hoping they will return and graduate.

Programs are in place to support the initiative to reduce the dropout rate, said Beebe, including the following:

• Alternative learning programs include Steps to Success, a program that provides academic and emotional support to struggling students. Another program at the high school provides support to students who have significant challenges emotionally and socially.

• English Language Learner program. There are three ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in place to support students whose first language is not English.

• A supportive climate at the high school that encourages students to reach out to adults in the building if they are struggling to keep up academically.

• Extra-curricular activities such as sports, drama and a recycling club

• A student leadership forum that meets once a month

• Diversity program

• Student council

Beebe said it is his and the district’s mission to do what is good for all students and these initiatives have helped to lower the dropout rate.


Following Beebe’s report about the SAT scores, Dr. Zrike said that the scores were notable, in that math scores were the highest ever in the history of the high school. He added that the reading and writing scores also were the highest aggregate the school has had since the SAT exams were changed in 1999.

The high school math mean is 23 points higher than the Massachusetts mean and 41 points above the national mean, said Beebe. The writing mean is 17 points above the Massachusetts mean and 39 points higher than the national mean.

In addition, the high school critical reasoning mean is 11 points higher than the Massachusetts mean and 28 points above the national mean.

Beebe explained that the SAT I sample represented a total of 176 students. The class of 2014 had 207 students, so this sample represents 85 percent of the class.

He added that approximately 90 percent of the Class of 2014 continued their education at a four- or two-year college.

“The trend is definitely moving upward,” said Beebe.

In spite of the upward trend, school board member Gregory Liakos commented that some students need remedial courses when they enter college and asked about looking at college readiness.

Zrike agreed that the remedial numbers are alarming and the issue requires watching.

“It’s one reason why we need to elevate standards,” he said.