Indiana’s graduation rate improved to 85.7 percent in the 2010-11 school year, breaking state records and increasing by 1.6 percentage points over last year.
The graduation rate is the highest Indiana has achieved since the state began measuring the four-year cohort graduation rate in 2005, according to the Indiana Department of Education, which publicly released the data today.
A record-high 171 public schools reached 90 percent or more of their students graduating in four years. In 2009, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett listed a 90 percent gradation rate as one of his primary goals for most Indiana schools.
In Allen County, three out of four public school districts saw higher graduation rates, and one district saw rates stay the same.
“In today’s world, graduating from high school with a meaningful diploma is critical to achieving any measure of success in life,” Bennett said in a prepared statement. “To see so many more high school students reach this essential milestone is inspiring, and I am thankful for the hard-working teachers and leaders in our schools who helped them get there.”
In Allen County, every district also posted a graduation rate higher than the state average.
Fort Wayne Community Schools last week touted the fact its overall high school graduation rate, which was 88.1 percent last year, had increased for the fourth consecutive year.
FWCS officials attributed the results partly to the FWCS’ freshman initiative, which began when the students from the class of 2011 were freshmen.
The program, which now continues throughout all of high school, groups students together for their core classes and pairs them with a group of teachers. The arrangement, officials say, allows students to build strong relationships with one another and their teachers and provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary lessons.
“We’re very happy that we have seen another year where we’ve increased and where we’ve outpaced the state,” FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. “It’s pretty rare for an urban district to be above the state average – that’s something we’re pretty proud of, and it’s something that has taken a lot of work from our staff and our students.”
The FWCS graduation rate data released by the state included statistics for Elmhurst High School, which closed in 2010. The data showed that students who started out at Elmhurst had an 84.2 graduation rate – about 0.1 percentage points higher than students at Wayne High School, where most Elmhurst students attended after their building closed.
At East Allen, the graduation rate jumped from 87.5 in 2010 to 88.1 percent in 2011. The district’s Leo Junior Senior High School had the highest graduation rate of any public high school in northeast Indiana, and the third highest among all schools in the region, according to the state.
Leo’s graduation rate was 98.3 percent, lower than onlyConcordia Lutheran High School, which had a graduation rate of 98.6 percent, and Bishop Dwenger High School, which had a 100 percent graduation rate – the highest in the region for the second year in a row.
EACS Superintendent Karyle Green attributed the graduation rate increases in her district to the hard work done by teachers and several curricular initiatives, including learning labs and after school programs at the high schools, community partnerships and credit recovery programs.
“East Allen County Schools has been working diligently to improve academic achievement across the board,” she said. “Our goal is 100 percent graduation rate. We have a little ways to go, but feel we’re making significant progress.”
Northwest Allen County Schools, which had the highest graduation rate of a public school district in the county, saw an increase from 94.3 to 95.5 percent. Superintendent Chris Himsel was out of the office and could not be reached for comment.
At Southwest Allen, the graduation rate remained at 92.5 percent, according to the state. SACS Superintendent Steve Yager said he thinks there were errors in the state’s data, and he believes the figure for SACS is higher.
“We want to keep trending up,” Yager said. “Staying flat from last year to this year is really beneath our expectations. But we think we did trend up. Once we get errors from the state cleared up we think we’ll see a different number.”
Karen Belcher, director of publications at Canterbury High School, said the way the state calculates the data can lead to an incorrect graduation rate. Canterbury had a 100 percent graduation rate last year, she said, although the state reported the figure at 93.3 percent.
She said when students transfer out of state, the schools they attend don’t always report their graduation back to the state, which then counts them as not graduated.
The graduation rate data cited above and listed in The Journal Gazette account for students who graduated through normal channels and those who earned waivers.
Waivers were created to help students who have the knowledge to graduate but do not perform well on standardized tests, or those who have other circumstances that explain why they failed the Graduation Qualifying Exam at least three times.
Schools may grant waivers at their own discretion, which has caused some to fear the process is being abused. On Tuesday, the DOE commended some schools for having high non-waiver graduation rates, or rates that did not include waivers.
Among those schools were Leo, which had the fourth highest non-waiver rate in the state; Adams Central High School, which had the eighth highest non-waiver rate; Carroll High School, which had the 14th highest rate; and Fremont High School, which had the 15th highest.
The state congratulated East Noble High School for increasing its non-waiver graduation rate by the highest amount in the state – from 70.9 percent in 2010 to 83.6 percent in 2011.
Graduation rate (percentages)
|EAST ALLEN COUNTY SCHOOLS|
|FORT WAYNE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS|
|SOUTHWEST ALLEN COUNTY SCHOOLS|
|NORTHWEST ALLEN COUNTY SCHOOLS|
|Blackhawk Christian Jr-Sr||100||98||98.2|
|Lakewood Park Christian||92.9||88.6||95.3|
|Hamilton Community HS||88.9||85.2||72|
|Southern Wells Jr-Sr||91.9||91.2||92.2|