ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis Public Schools report a graduation rate well below the national average of 83 percent on Monday – but the trend is improving.

Five years ago only 58 percent of St. Louis Public School students graduated. Last year, the number was up to 71 percent. Dr. Elizabeth Bender is the Associate Superintendent for college and career readiness. She says students are calling it quits for many reasons.

“I’ve known students, I was a principal two years ago, who had to stop and drop out to support their families,” Bender says. “Sometimes it can be drugs. Sometimes it can be violence. Sometimes it can be family pressure.”

She adds that some students just aren’t at that point in their lives yet.

Charlie Bean is a dropout recruiter for the school district. Bean goes out into the field to track down students who dropped out to try to get them to come back.

“Teachers and the principals will sit down and say, ‘Okay, this student failed a class Freshman year. How are they going to make that up?'” Bender says. “And really working to kind of keep the pressure on the students and the staff.”

Bender says the district is also counseling students with low test scores to get their grades up and prevent them from dropping out.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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