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Rice Bill Focusing on Dropout Prevention Passes Committee

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice, which would improve the state focus on reducing the student dropout rate, was passed by the Senate Education Committee today.


“In the state’s urban areas, the dropout rate among public school students – particularly minority students – is a problem of epidemic proportions,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “In order to solve this problem, we have to look at it as more than just a numbers game. We have to develop solutions to the underlying socio-economic factors that contribute to this problem. This measure will ensure a state focus on analyzing all of the issues that lead to students leaving our education system, developing a plan for addressing these issues and for making it easier for children to return.”


The bill, S-316, would establish the Office of Dropout Prevention and Reengagement of Out-of-School Youth within the Department of Education, along with the Student Dropout Prevention Task Force.  The two agencies would be tasked with creating a comprehensive statewide plan to identify and address the underlying factors, which lead to students dropping out of school, the issues they face after they drop out and the challenges they encounter when they attempt to reenroll and continue their education.  The Task Force would be required to issue its recommendations for action to the Governor and the Legislature no later than nine months following its organization.


“While New Jersey has one the highest high school graduation rates in the country at about 91 percent, according to the NJ Department of Education, there is still room for improvement, particularly in poorer urban areas and among minority students, where the dropout rates are much higher that the State average,” continued Senator Rice.


The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.