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Preventing Female Dropouts Is Focus of New 11-State Program

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Eleven states have been selected by the National Association of State Boards of Education to form the nucleus of a program designed to focus greater attention on the needs of young girls who are at risk of dropping out of school.

Each of the participating states will send a three-person team of officials to nasbe's Dec. 7-9 conference on the issue, at which possible state strategies for helping at-risk girls will be planned.

The conference is being funded by a grant from the Women's Educational Equity Act.

The states selected for funding--Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming--will be joined by several other states, which are sending delegates at their own expense.

Gene Wilhoit, nasbe's executive director, said in a statement that the interest expressed in the project "says something about states' commitment to students in general who may be in danger of dropping out, and more particularly to female students, who are little studied and poorly served."

In the 1987 report, "Female Dropouts: A New Perspective," Janice Earle, a nasbe project director, revealed that girls drop out of school at approximately the same rate as boys and for many of the same reasons.

The report dispelled the common misconception that pregnancy is the most frequent reason girls decide to leave school. It showed that only 40 percent of female dropouts leave because of pregnancy.

Teenage-pregnancy prevention will, however, be among the issues studied at the December conference. Others will include the link between academic-achievement levels and dropping out, collaboration between agencies serving at-risk females, and ways to address the needs of parenting students.

Nasbe officials said that as participating states begin planning their own initiatives, the association will provide follow-up technical assistance and other aid in policy shaping and program development.--jw

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