DETROIT - A state report shows that about 75 percent of Michigan's Class of 2008 graduated within four years, the Detroit Free Press reported, while the dropout rate among that cohort was 14 percent. Of the remainder, most are classified as "off-track" but continuing their high school education, the state report indicates.

In related news, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan has challenged all schools to identify and assist 10 to 15 students who show warning signs of dropping out, the Free Press reported.

The report was issued by the Center for Educational Performance and Information. It calculates graduation rates for each school based on the number of students who enroll as first-time ninth graders and who receive a regular diploma within four years, after adjusting numbers for transfers.

Kathleen Straus, president of the state Board of Education, said the numbers show that schools should intervene to help struggling students before they reach high school.

Jessie Kilgore, chief administrative officer for the Plymouth Educational Center Preparatory Academy, told the Free Press that his school already has signed on to the challenge. A charter public school in Detroit, the center is adding one grade at a time until it reaches full K-12 status in 2011-12, the Free Press reported.

"We cannot allow these kids to continue to slip through the cracks," Kilgore told the Free Press.

Westwood Community Schools has added an alternative program in which students and parents sign contracts to complete school work, the Free Press reported. Superintendent Ernie Minghine said his district likely will sign up for the new challenge as well.

Detroit Free Press, "State to schools: ID likely dropouts," July 3, 2009

Center for Educational Performance and Instruction, "State of Michigan 2008 Cohort 4-Year and 2007 Cohort 5-Year Graduation/Dropout Rate Reports."

Michigan Education Report, "Hope in state graduation standards misplaced," March 7, 2006