Grad rates improve statewide

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mississippi Department of Education released numbers indicating both Brookhaven and Lincoln County school districts’ graduation rates improved following a statewide pattern.

Mississippi showed a four-year graduation rate of 78.4 percent for the 2014-15 school year, up from 74.5 in the 2013-14 school year. Brookhaven showed a rate of 69.3 percent and Lincoln County showed a rate of 81.7. The national graduation rate average was 82 percent for the 2013-14 school year, the most recent statistic reported.

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Ben Cox said the remediation programs Brookhaven High School Principal David Martin has implemented have significantly impacted the school’s graduation rate.

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“What we’ve been doing primarily at Brookhaven High School is implementing programs to help our students succeed,” Cox said. “We have remediation programs. We have credit recovery programs to help students get through their classes. We have curriculum focused on state exit tests to help students pass those them. That’s a large part of it. We have numerous clubs, activities and athletic teams for students to feel a part of something. Those programs keep students involved and definitely help them want to graduate. But by far, the remediation programs that Mr. Martin has implanted have had a big impact on the success of our students.”

Lincoln County School District Superintendent Mickey Myers says the statistics showed a large increase in the four-year graduation rate for Lincoln County.

“There are mentoring programs, tutoring and counseling at our four schools for all students, but especially for students at risk of dropping out,” Myers said. “Those resources contribute to the increase in Lincoln County’s graduation rate. Our campuses provide opportunities for school personnel to build relationships with students and their support base, which I believe helps with that success as well.”

The Mississippi School for Math and Science reported the highest four-year graduation rate for the 2014-15 school year at 98.4 percent, and the Oakley Youth Development Center had the lowest graduation rate at 5 percent.

Mississippi’s four-year dropout rate was 12.8 percent in 2014-15, a drop from 13.9 the previous school year. Brookhaven’s four-year dropout rate was 21.6 percent and Lincoln County’s was 12.1. The 2015 rates for graduation and dropouts are based on students who entered ninth grade for the first time during the 2010-11 school year.

Oakley Youth Development Center reported the highest four-year dropout rate for the 2014-15 school year at 89.3 percent, and Benoit and West Tallahatchie tied for the lowest dropout rate at 0 percent.

The lower state dropout rate and higher graduation rates prove that many districts are working to encourage students to stay in school, and they are focusing on attendance and targeting students at risk of dropping out, state superintendent of education Carey Wright said.

“Those efforts, as well as the Mississippi Department of Education providing more technical assistance to districts and school counselors to help students explore multiple pathways to college and careers, have contributed to dramatic decreases in students leaving school and increases in graduation,” Wright said. “However, there are districts in the state that still struggle to keep students on the path to a high school diploma, which means we have more work to do.”

The MDE also reported the state four-year graduation rate of students with disabilities at 27.5 percent. Brookhaven showed a rate of 37.1 percent and Lincoln County showed a rate of 40.3 percent.

Wright said the MDE will continue to work with school districts to ensure that all students have the opportunity to graduate from high school.

“We are far from where we need to be when it comes to graduation rates for students with disabilities. The MDE will continue to provide technical assistance to districts to help them support the educational needs of all students,” Wright said.