Delaware News

Leaders hope to keep graduation rates on upswing

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More and more students are walking across the stage and accepting their high school diplomas as graduation rates continue to rise in the United States.

New data released by National Center for Education Statistics through the U.S. Department of Education shows national graduation rates at just above 80 percent for the 2011-12 school year. The percentage is the highest in the country's history.

In the Delaware City School District, graduation rates also are on an upward trend.

Superintendent Paul Craft said students are having more academic success and there has been an attitude change among the school community.

"We are not giving up on any of our kids, and we have more avenues to keep our kids staying in school and continuing on their educational careers outside of high school," Craft said.

In 2010, the graduation rate for the district was 86.7 percent. In 2011, it was 90.2 percent, and in 2012, it rose slightly to 90.4 percent. That's well above the state's rate of 81.3 percent.

"This is a tough economy for kids who do not have a high school diploma," Craft said. "You will be challenged to be successful without that and some post-high school training.

"The economic reality is a driving force in getting kids to keep moving forward to finish their education."

Craft said that prior to 2010, there was a different system in place to measure graduation rates. Using the old system, the district had a 92 percent graduation rate, but when the new system was put in place, it dropped to 86 percent.

"What happened in the new system is that students who left our district and went somewhere else were still counted against us if they didn't graduate," he said.

The new system gives every student an identification number, and that number will be the same regardless of the school or district they are enrolled in. However, if they stop going to school, their home district will be the one accountable for them not graduating, Craft said.

"This is actually a great thing," he said. "Instead of these kids just getting lost in the system, we're able to reach out to them and influence them.

"Ohio's graduation rates as a whole will get better and better as time goes on and more students are being reached."

There are subgroups in terms of graduation rates, such as students with disabilities.

In some cases, the district is required by law to keep those students until they are 20 or 21 years old, and the years they don't graduate actually count against the school, Craft said.

"There is some artificiality in the way these rates are calculated," he said. "Even though we are doing the best thing for these students by holding them back, which is in compliance with the law, we still get penalized."

Craft said he expects the district's graduation rate to continue to grow and said the 2013 rate should be at least 92 percent, if not 93 percent.

"We are proud of how far we've come and that we're ahead of the state average," he said. "However, we're not going to be satisfied until every kid who stays with us in high school leaves with a diploma."

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