St. Charles Parish boasts record graduation rates

Educator attributes more graduates to assistance offered to students

St. Charles Parish Schools’ 2014-15 high school graduation rate hit a record high for the parish, as well as followed the state and national trend in rising graduates. The parish marked an 88.7 percent graduation rate, up from the previous year’s 83.9 percent. In years 2011 to 2014, the rate held around 84 percent, but was also significantly higher than the 2010-11 rate of 78.5 percent.

 Ajit “AJ” Pethe, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the 2014-15 rate (latest available figure) is determined by students who enter as ninth graders and graduate in four years.

While the parish’s graduation rate is 88.7 percent, the dropout rate is 2 percent, Pethe said.

“Some students don’t graduate with their cohort group, but our goal is for students to earn a high school diploma even if some take five or more years to do so,” he said.

To grow graduation rates, Pethe added high schools have implemented interventions that provide support so that students graduate with their group.

Interventions include grade recovery, credit recovery, performance-based programs, mentoring and the data teams process.

The Louisiana Department of Education announced the state’s four-year high school graduation rate increased for a fifth consecutive year in 2015, reaching an all-time high of 77.5 percent for the class graduating that year. This represents an increase of 2.9 percentage points over 2014, the second largest annual gain in the past 10 years, and significantly higher than the national gain of only 0.9 percent.

The parish’s 88.7 percent rate exceeded the state rate for that year. Since 2005-06, the system’s rate has exceeded state graduation rates, according to the Louisiana Board of Education’s reported figures.

The strongest gains in the state total came from African-American students.

Factors in the state rate included the 2015 class being the first group of students who participated in the state’s LA-4 pre-kindergarten program; the group with the highest-performing ACT average composite score since the state required all students take the ACT with a 19.4 average; more than 8 percent of this class earned college credit in Advanced Placement, and these students exceeded expectations in core subjects.

Some 11 percent of parish students earned college credit in Advanced Placement testing in 2014-15. The state rate was 5.3 percent while the national rate was 21.6 percent.

The announcement continues a significant upward trend in achievements of Louisiana’s high school students in the years since 2012, when BESE began implementing comprehensive high school policy changes including funding the ACT assessment for all students, Jump Start career education pathways, and expansion of Advanced Placement courses, according the Education Department.

More than 6,300 students annually achieve a college-going score on the ACT than did so in 2012.

Louisiana was also the most improved state in the nation on ACT tests in 2015 and the second most improved in the number of graduates achieving an Advanced Placement college credit.

State Superintendent John White said, “Because of the hard work of students, families, and educators, thousands more young people are achieving opportunity for life after high school. At the same time, we must recognize that in today’s economy; simply having a high school diploma is not enough to achieve upward mobility and high wage employment. Therefore, we are committed to increasing the graduation rate while making sure a Louisiana high school diploma is the springboard to college, career, and life success.”


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