The Iowa Department of Education released the new report on the state high school dropout rate Thursday that shows some 4,400 students in the ninth through 12th grades dropped out last year. That’s a rate of 2.85%, which state education officials say is one of the lower rates in the nation.

The Burlington school district had the highest dropout rate of 8.85%, followed by Marshalltown at 8.53% and the Council Bluffs schools at just over 8%. The Webster City School district was seventh in the state report with 31 dropouts and a dropout rate of just over 5%. In the 2006-2007 school year there were 21 students who dropped out of Webster City High School.

Webster City superintendent Mike Sherwood says they have been working to turn the situation around. Sherwood says they had done some work in the last month to identify the dropout population and says they’ve been working to set up a meeting with the dropouts to "gauge what the issues are, how can we better serve and meet their needs, and what kinds of changes do we need to make as a district to reengage them back in school."

Sherwood says they will do whatever they can to improve the dropout rate. Sherwood says the staff has been involved and are concerned as well. He says they will review their policies and practices and try to identify the issues and address them aggressively. The state is now using a new system that assigns a number to each student to hopefully give them a more accurate assessment of what’s happening with students.

The other Iowa school districts in the top ten with dropout rates included Des Moines, Waterloo, Fort Madison, Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine. The complete report can be viewed on-line at the Iowa Department of Education website, or through the link on

(Pat Powers of  KQWC in Webster City contributed to this story)

View a spreadsheet of dropout rates here.