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Lincoln County’s graduation rate higher than national rate — Brookhaven School District has improved but still below state average

The Lincoln County School District ranked 45th out of 144 districts in the state for its graduation rate, according to a recent report from the Mississippi Department of Education, while the Brookhaven School District came in 135th.

Though Brookhaven remains in the bottom 10 lowest graduation rates in the state at 71.9 percent, that is a 10 percent jump over the last five years.

The MDE report — which includes rates for the 2016-17 school year — shows that the state’s graduation rate has reached an all-time high of 83 percent. Mississippi’s rate is just one point shy of the national graduation rate of 84 percent.

Lincoln County’s rate is higher than the state and the nation at 86.3 percent.

Myers said the Lincoln County district has hovered around that spot for a while, with tenths of a percentage point separating schools.

“There are a lot of schools in that range,” he said.

Lincoln County’s graduation rate is based on an N-count of 249 students. That’s the number of students the district is responsible for since they entered ninth grade or transferred into the district.

Brookhaven’s N-Count is 203 students.

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Ray Carlock said his district’s rate increased .6 percent from the previous year. “The district grad rate has risen 10 percent in the last five (years) from 61.6 percent,” he said in an email to The Daily Leader.

He said the district continues to seek ways to improve its rate.

“We are improving our intervention process for working with students, looking into new programs and alternatives to help support our students that are struggling in academics and with state assessments,” he wrote. “We have an ongoing program of home visits and credit recovery for students with attendance problems.”

Myers said a major advantage for them is the size of enrollment, which allows for more interpersonal relationships that can be established between faculty and staff and the students.

He said that lets educators identify students at risk of becoming high school dropouts. Those are students who lack motivation, have poor attendance, are grade levels behind their peers or struggle with subject area testing.

He said the district expects teachers to meet with students they consider at-risk and schedule conferences with the students’ parents.

Their goal is to keep students in school so they can one day walk away with a diploma in hand.

“We try to make it difficult for a child to withdraw from school it’s too important not to exhaust ever option,” he said. “Challenges in life become more monumental when they drop out.”

Carlock said socioeconomic status is a critical factor in the student growth and as school budgets and funds continue to decline, students who don’t always have access to tutors, computers, or programs may count on schools to fill in the gaps.

“As school budgets decline resources must be directed to programs and items that meet everyone’s basic academic needs and often the ‘extra’ items, programs, and personnel have to be cut,” he said.

Statewide, the graduation rate for students with disabilities also increased, to 36.4 percent from 34.7 percent the previous school year.

The drop-out rate dipped for the fourth consecutive year to 10.6 percent from 13.9 percent in 2014 percent as school districts worked to help students to stay in school.

In Lincoln County, the district’s graduation rate for students with disabilities is 28.6 percent. Its dropout rate is 9.6 percent.

Brookhaven’s graduation rate for students with disabilities is 20 percent. Its dropout rate is 14.8 percent.

Other school districts ratings were:

• Copiah County School District’s graduation rate was 82 percent (N-Count of 194), while its graduation rate for students with disabilities was 6.7 percent (N-Count of 15). Dropout rate is 13.9 percent.

• Franklin County School District’s graduation rate was 84 percent (N-Count of 102). The district did not meet the minimum N-Count for the calculation of a graduation rate for students with disabilities. Dropout rate is 6.9 percent.

• Lawrence County School District’s graduation rate was 80.1 percent (N-Count of 156), while its graduation rate for students with disabilities was 71.4 percent (N-Count of 21). Dropout rate is 14.7 percent.

• Mississippi School of the Arts’ graduation rate was 100 percent (N-Count of 52). MDE did not list a graduation rate for students with disabilities. It reported a zero percent dropout rate. MSA is a is a statewide residential school that provides advanced programs of study in music, theatre, visual arts, dance, literary arts, and media arts for artistically gifted 11- and 12th-grade students.

Through a partnership with the Brookhaven School District, students participate in non-arts courses at Brookhaven High School. MSA is authorized to offer most areas of academics, arts, and humanities. Students may also take math, science, and other specialized courses that they need at Brookhaven High School.

The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) approved new diploma options that will go into effect in the 2018-19 school year that will give students the opportunity to earn an endorsement with their high school diploma and will provide the majority of students with disabilities an opportunity to earn a traditional diploma.

The new diploma options include a traditional diploma for all students and an alternate diploma option for students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities. Students will also have the opportunity to earn additional requirements to qualify for a traditional diploma with a Career and Technical Education (CTE) endorsement, an academic endorsement or a distinguished academic endorsement. Students can earn more than one endorsement.

The report can be found here.