The number of high school students who graduated last year took a very slight dip from the year before. According to the Indiana Department Education (IDOE), the graduation rate statewide for the school year 2012-2013 was 88.6 percent. The graduation rates for 2011-2012 came in at 88.7 percent.
However, Glenda Ritz, Indiana superintendent of public instruction, issued a positive comment concerning the rates on Wednesday. Ritz said, “While the overall graduation rate is largely the same as it was in 2012, when you dig into the data it becomes clear that more of our students are graduating without a waiver and passing their end-of-course assessments. This is a crucial step in ensuring that our students graduate from high school both college and career ready.”
Waivers are in place to help students who have the knowledge to graduate but do not perform well on standardized tests. There could also be additional circumstances that could explain why some students fail the Graduation Qualifying Exam at least three times.
The Northern Indiana School with the lowest graduation rate is Tippecanoe Valley High school located in Kosciusko County at 75.8 percent.
2013 cohort size 2013 graduates 2013 graduation rate 2012 graduation rate
High School 61 47 77% 82.1%
Jr-Sr. High School 45 41 91.1% 81.1%
High School 110 98 89.1% 96.2%
School 265 228 86% 91.6%
High School 59 53 89.8% 93.8%
LaVille Jr-Sr 86 71 82.6% 83%
High School 148 143 96.6% 94.9%
Nate McKeand is in his first year as principal of LaVille Jr-Sr High School. McKeand said, “I believe we have to identify the needs of students early on-really as they move to classes at LaVille Jr-Sr High School. “ McKeand said early intervention could be put in place to helpfully keep students engaged and keep them from getting discouraged. He said, “We need to keep trying to find ways to keep them from slipping thorough the cracks.“ McKeand emphasized the need for ongoing communication between the school staff and parents. “We can help find an avenue for parents to work with the schools.” he said.
McKeand said also pointed out that there are a number of outside factors that make it hard for school to compete with things outside of the school walls. He indicated that the effects of poverty and the need for some students to work to help support the needs of the family is real.
McKeand added, “There continues to be a number of transient students that are hard for us to track.” “When a school has 80 or so students in a cohort, even one dropping out has a large effect on the graduation rate.” he said.
Jim Condon, principal of Plymouth High School, said, “Although we like to compare the graduation rates from back-to-back cohorts, they are truly like comparing apples to oranges.” He added, “The students that compose each individual cohort have unique talents, abilities, and challenges.” “Our challenge is to use all the information we can gather about each individual student , process it, then form plans which will promote success for all.” he said.
Condon outlined some of the factors that separate the graduation rates from the 2011-2012 school year and the 2012-2013 school year. “Most of the time, PHS has been very successful. At other times, we experience a drop. Such is the case when comparing the graduation rate from 2012-2013.” he said.
Condon shared some of the differences including fifth year students, non- diploma track students, transfers to non-accredited programs, and dropouts. He said, “Fifth year students are those who for whatever reason, did not complete their required graduation requirements within four years, but remain in school and in pursuit of fulfilling those requirements.” “Non- diploma track students are those who often have severe learning disabilities and whose educational experience is based upon the development of daily living skills required for them to some day be capable of living independently,” Condon said.
Some students leave public education and enroll in non-accredited academic programs. Condon said, “While the programs exist, they are not recognized by the State of Indiana.”
Referring to those who are considered dropouts, Condon said. “These are students that for whatever reason chose to leave school. Some of the more common reasons given by students include disinterest, an inability or unwillingness to conform to expected behavior or attendance requirements, financial hardship being experienced by the family, which requires that the student quit school and contribute towards paying for the families’ needs. Some students quit school due to temporary medical conditions.”
Explaining the drop in the 2013 gradation rate for PHS, Condon said, “Often times, misconceptions are formed that the difference between a schools’ target graduation rate of 100 percent and it’s actual rate, in the case of the PHS class of 2013, is a result of nothing but students dropping out of school.” He added, “While students decisions to drop out of school certainly do negatively impact a schools’ graduation rate, it is most certainly not the only reason as has been summarized above.”
Condon said he and his staff are looking ahead. He said, “We at PHS will continue to strive for ways to better meet the needs of our learners. We take ownership of both our successes as well as our failures and we will never settle for anything less that excellence.”