LAND O' LAKES - More Pasco County students are staying in school and are pleased with the overall high school experience, but they are less satisfied than past students with extracurricular activities, according to an annual school district report that surveys graduating seniors and dropouts.
The "Graduates and Leavers Survey," presented to the school board this month, showed an 18 percentage-point drop in the number of graduating seniors who said they had a positive experience participating in extracurricular activities.
The report reflects the views of the graduating class of 2012. The annual survey is always a year behind because of the time it takes to compile the numbers and complete the report.
According to the survey, 71.9 percent of the graduates said extracurricular activities were a positive experience, compared with 89.8 percent in the class of 2011. The report did not suggest a reason for the dramatic drop, though it did note it as a "significant" change.
Meanwhile, 59.6 percent of the graduates said their senior project was meaningful, up slightly from 59.1 percent in 2011.
Other findings from the 2012 survey include: 88.5 percent of the graduates felt safe in school; 90.3 percent said the school provided adequate access to technology; and 88.6 percent said their overall high school experience was positive.
Overwhelmingly, the graduates said high school was not going to be the end of their formal education.
The vast majority - 81.4 percent - said they plan to pursue post-secondary education, with Florida community colleges the most popular destination. Another 11.1 percent planned to join the workforce, 6.2 percent planned to join the military and 6.9 percent were undecided. That comes to more than 100 percent because the graduates could choose more than one option.
The dropout rate has been steadily declining over the years and in 2012 was at 1 percent. The rate was more than triple that five years earlier.
Dropouts gave numerous reasons for leaving school, but those most often cited were falling behind on the number of class credits needed to graduate, missing too many days of school and losing interest.
Dropouts were less likely to respond to the survey than graduates. Among the graduates, 91.9 percent completed and returned a survey, but the return rate for dropouts was 34.4 percent.
Although the dropout rate is 1 percent, that doesn't mean 99 percent of the students graduate. Students can stay in school, yet still fail to earn a diploma when they reach the end of their senior year. The graduation rate was 76.6 percent.