WS/FCS graduation rates increase 5.2 points in 2010-11
JULY 19, 2011 – Students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools last year graduated at the highest rate since the state began tracking the number in 2006, according to preliminary data released by the school district today. Almost four-fifths of the students who entered high school in 2007-08 graduated in four years, and for the first time all traditional high schools had graduation rates greater than 70 percent.
The district’s 2011 graduation rate was 78.8 percent, up 5.2 percentage points from 73.6 percent in 2010. Several schools showed marked gains. The three schools at the Atkins complex each increased at least 17 percentage points; Parkland High increased 9.4 points; Reynolds High increased 8.4 points and East Forsyth High increased 6.7 points. (See Chart 1)
“In today’s global society, the need for a high school diploma has never been greater. It’s been a key point we have focused on as a school system, with the help of many community partners,” Superintendent Don Martin said.
The United Way of Forsyth County launched Graduating Our Future in winter 2008. The initiative has provided summer transition programs, intensive before- and after-school tutoring, family counseling, mentoring and attendance tracking as a pilot program at Parkland High and Philo Magnet Academy – Parkland’s main feeder school. The United Way expanded the focus of Graduating our Future to Carver and North Forsyth high schools and Mineral Springs and East Forsyth middle schools in 2010-11.
The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce started the Senior Academy at North Forsyth in 2007-08 after a review of dropout data showed WS/FCS was losing seniors at a disproportionate rate compared to other school districts across the nation. The academy provides mentors for seniors who must pass every course they are taking in order to graduate. Since then, the academy has been expanded to Atkins, Carver, East Forsyth, Glenn and Reynolds high schools. The Chamber also has run the Corporate Volunteers program for 12 years. This pairs volunteers with kindergarten students in an effort to make sure the students are reading at grade level. The first kindergarten students in the program will be seniors in 2011-12.
A grass-roots organization called Graduate. It Pays. was founded in 2008-09 and has extended the mentoring program to underclassmen at Atkins, Carver, East Forsyth, Glenn, North Forsyth and Reynolds high schools. Big Brothers/Big Sisters has recruited mentors for ninth-graders, and Communities In Schools has provided college students to work as graduation coaches with sophomores and juniors.
In addition to these community partners, the school district has invested in several programs that contributed to the improvement in the graduation rate. A credit recovery opportunity has been added at all high schools. Summer school opportunities also expanded, resulting in more than 100 graduates last year. Two new high schools, Early College and Middle College, give students opportunities in small educational settings. The school district also received a dropout prevention grant from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction last spring that will help develop an early warning system to identify potential dropouts in middle school.
“Beyond the individual success stories, I think you see a clear trend over the past five years of increases in the graduation rate,” Martin said. “We’re still not where we need to be, but we’re making progress toward our goal of 90 percent of our ninth-graders graduating in five years by 2018.”
Preliminary test results also showed gains in the overall percentages of students who were proficient in math and science EOG scores and middle and high school end-of-course tests. The percent of WS/FCS students who were proficient in grades 3 through 8 increased 0.6 points to 83.0 in math; decreased 0.2 points in reading to 68.9; and increased in science by 2.5 points to 71.6 in grades 5 and 8. (See Chart 2)
Fifteen elementary and middle schools made gains in reading, math and science – including Petree Elementary and Kennedy Learning Center. Both Petree and Kennedy received federal school improvement grants that required them to make extensive staff and curriculum changes in order to improve student achievement. Petree increased 5.3 points in reading, 6.3 points in math, and 0.8 points in science. Kennedy increased 5.7 points in reading, 18.6 points in math and 16.4 points in science. Whitaker Elementary achieved a first for the school district by posting perfect results in all grades on the math end-of-grade test.
Among middle and high schools, the percentage of students passing end-of-course tests increased in Algebra I, Algebra II, Civics, Physical Science and U.S. History. The district’s overall proficiency on end-of-course tests increased from 74.3 percent to 75.0 percent last year.(See Chart 3)
Of the 30 traditional middle and high schools, 22 maintained or made gains in the percentage of students passing their end-of-course tests. Five middle schools (Flat Rock, Hill, Jefferson, Mineral Springs and Wiley) demonstrated 100 percent proficiency on the Algebra I test, and Hill and Jefferson maintained perfect results for two years in a row.
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