Two East Tennessee Schools Classified as "Dropout Factories"

Knoxville (WVLT) - Two schools in East Tennessee are classified as so-called "dropout factories" according to a new Associated Press study.

Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman explains.

"Dropout factory" refers to a school where no more than 60% of the students who start at freshman make it to their senior year.

Those schools are Midway and Rockwood High Schools in Roane County.

In the data that tracked senior classes for three years, Midway High scored a retention rate of 56%.

Most people we spoke to were shocked and disappointed about the study.

"There's people I know well. Some of the teachers from Midway, they come through here. And one of my good friends is the ex-girls basketball coach down there," said Tony Smith, Owner of Handee Burger.

Rockwood High's retention rate is listed at 59%.

"Rockwood always has good athletic programs. Seems like they have a lot of support from the community. So, I was surprised at that," said Smith.

And, apparently so was the director of Roane County schools, who would not speak with us, but did release a statement.

"The Associated Press article contains statistics that are untrue," wrote Dr. Toni McGriff.

The statement lists the 2006-2007 graduation rates for Midway High School at 80% and Rockwood High's at 75%.

But, the Associated Press story does not look at graduation rates.

It only takes into account the percentage of students who start as freshmen and make it to their senior year.

McGriff adds that Midway has consistently met the Tennessee target scores for graduation rates and that Rockwood has historically met the target.

In addition, the only major metropolitan county without a high school on the list was Knox County.

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