By Amy Yensi

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s an alarming statistic that’s hard to believe. Every 26 seconds, another student in the U.S. drops out of high school.

That’s more than 1.2 million students per year. And in our region, two out of every 25 students don’t graduate.

Now, some local schools are trying a new way to keep students on track and curb the drop out rate, one school at a time.

Only one Baltimore City school has fully implemented the program, but the results have been so great that other schools are now giving it a try.

“We want to be at a place where throughout the region, there are 25 out of 25 students graduating from high school on time,” says Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Maryland.

Enter the On Track For Success program.

“I think it’s great they take initiative in getting children in school and making sure they graduate,” says parent Joyce Mumford.

The program uses the ABCs — attendance, behavior and coursework — to identify which students are at a high risk of dropping out.

“One of the things that universally makes a different, are who are the adults around them?” says CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools Sonja Santelises.

Back in 2016, the program was put to the test in the 4th and 6th graduates at the Maree G. Farring Elementary and Middle School in South Baltimore.

This year, it’s expanding to 5th through 8th grades.

“They’re actually having a real impact on our students,” says principal Ben Crandall.

“We had a math program where they set up with peer tutoring,” Crandall says. “We had a group of students that went through that program and we saw 67 percent of the students go from off track to on track.”

An on-site social worker is there to help students and their families who may have personal struggles, so what happens outside of school doesn’t hurt their chances of success.

“If we can do it, then other schools should be able to do it,” says student Logan Laird.

City school officials say they are watching tos ee if the program continues to success. If it does, they could bring a similar approach to all city schools.

This school year, the program will be launching at Meade Middle School in Anne Arundel County and the Benjamin Franklin High School in Baltimore’s Brookly-Curtis Bay neighborhood.

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