Graduation rates up in St. Mary schools
Nearly 70 percent of students who begin high school together are now completing the four years of course work in St. Mary Parish schools.
According to figures released by the St. Mary Parish School Board today, the parish’s Graduation Cohort rate increased by 1.5 percent during the past year to 69.7 percent.
The graduation cohort rate is the number of students enrolled in a specified grade during a given year and consists of students who enter high school as freshmen each year.
Since 2008, the parish’s graduation cohort rate has increased by 6.3 percentage points.
According to the figures, Berwick High School has the highest Graduation Cohort rate at 81.1 percent, up from 80.8 percent during the 2009-10 school year.
Centerville High School, which led the district at 81.6 percent last year, slipped to 80.6 percent for 2010-11.
West St. Mary High School had the lowest Graduation Cohort Rate at 66.7 percent, but that figure was 3.4 percent higher than 2009-10.
Statewide, Louisiana’s Cohort Graduation Rate has surged to a historic high for the state, according to figures released by the State Department of Education today.
From 2010 to 2011, Louisiana boosted the graduation rate by 3.7 percent to a current record of 70.9. The state’s goal remains to increase the rate to 80 percent by 2014; and based on recent data, Louisiana is poised to meet its objective.
Although students may be added to a school’s cohort if they transfer into the public school system, tracking of graduation levels is confined to the initial cohort of students.
State graduation figures are modified incrementally based on students who are considered non-diploma completers and legitimate leavers, such as those who exit public school to attend private school. The final accounting of student cohort graduation levels remains centered on a school’s incoming freshman class.
Actions at the state level have enabled districts to modify transitions to the high school level by placing students in acceleration programs to aid in remediating skills while keeping students on track for graduation.
Most recently, the state has launched programs — such as the Accelerated Student Achievement Pathway — to offer an accelerated graduation track to students who enter high school overage.
Revisions in the school level Graduation Equivalent Diploma to the Connections option for students has allowed the state to modify an existing option to push graduation levels further.
Incoming high school students are carefully monitored to address risk factors, such as attendance and course failure through online data systems including the Dropout Early Warning System.
Reductions in the number of students leaving high school without a diploma can be attributed to combined policy changes and various preventative measures enacted by St. Mary. The school district has actively sought to identify and monitor at-risk students in conjunction with the initiation of targeted interventions, such as the Credit Recovery Program that focuses on mitigating academic disparities that often lead students to exit high school without achieving a diploma.
School cohorts within the district have experienced steady increases in graduation rates over the previous four-year period as well.
Berwick, Franklin, Morgan City and West St. Mary high schools have posted their highest graduation rates in 2011. Although incremental declines in the rates may be evidenced from year-to-year, schools are working diligently to secure programs aligned to student tracking data.
The state also announced corresponding dropout rates for schools and districts. Schools exhibiting significant declines in dropout rate over the previous year include Franklin and Patterson high schools.
More significantly, four-year trend data demonstrates dramatic decreases in dropout rates as MCHS experienced a 56.9 percent reduction in the number of students leaving school without a high school diploma.
Additionally, PHS reported a 47.5 percent decline while BHS has posted a 48.5 percent decline in the dropout rate.
St. Mary has enacted several proactive measures to address the dropout rate and make corresponding increases in high school graduation numbers.
Currently, three high schools and four middle schools have taken advantage of state grants through the Everybody Graduates program to fund initiatives designed to reach at-risk students and develop college and career readiness skills.
Superintendent Donald Aguillard commended high school students on the commitment to graduation as exemplified in recent statistics.
“The collaborative effort embodied by high school administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers has directly resulted in the ongoing increases in graduation levels,” Aguillard said in a release. “I highly commend the high school community for its diligence in continuously tracking and responding to the unique needs of students as they prepare to enter the college or career fields of postsecondary study.”