- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in North Carolina to hear about an experiment that strives to prepare rural students for college.

Duncan visits Greensboro on Thursday to get the results from the program funded with a $15 million federal grant and $1.5 million in private donations.

An initiative led by the group North Carolina New Schools reports that an initial group of five high schools in Rutherford, Beaufort, Madison and Surry counties saw a nearly 30 percent decline in dropout rates in 2013 compared with the year before.

The program is expected to reach more than 20,000 students by 2016. Students in the schools can earn more than a semester of tuition-free college credits before graduation through local community colleges and online courses.

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