Graduation rates among traditional Clark County high schools climbed more than 8.5 percent over a 10-year period ending in 2011, a Springfield News-Sun analysis of state data found.
That trends with a recent national study by Education Week newspaper, which found rates are the highest since 1973, and have shown solid gains the last three years.
The average graduation rate in the 2010-11 school year among Clark County high schools was 94.5 percent, up from the average 86 percent in the 2000-01 school year, according to the most recent data available from the Ohio Department of Education.
During that period, Greenon High School showed the greatest gains among all county high schools, up to 98.1 percent in 2010-11 from a low of 81.6 percent in the 2001-02 school year.
Superintendent Dan Bennett credit the nearly consistent increases to family involvement, dedicated teachers and current and former administration, consistency in programming, and a district-operated online credit recovery program.
“I’ve been six different places, and the thing that impresses you most about Greenon right off the bat is their partnerships with their parents and how the community supports their schools,” Bennett said. “And having teachers and parents working together working toward graduation is a must.”
And the Knights in Transition (KIT) online credit recovery program helps students get back on track if they do fall behind.
“That has been a huge impact, as well as the initial piece of 10 years of a commitment that every child will succeed,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not there yet until we get 100 percent.”
According to Education Week’s 2013 Diploma Count, public schools nationwide generated 96,000 fewer dropouts than the previous year. Improvements were driven by gains among Latino and black students, the research said.
Springfield City Schools, the most-populated Clark County district and which serves the most minority students, struggled to find a steady foothold on increasing graduation rates each year over the 2001-11 period, data shows.
However, it gained 10.1 percent in 2011 from a combined average of of 73.3 percent in 2001 at North and South high schools.
“During (those 10 years) we’ve really expanded the choices that we’re offering our students. We’ve been able to beef up our alternative education, add more online options, and we’ve added new classes that keep kids engaged a little bit better,” Superintendent David Estrop said. “So all of those things taken together contribute to our students staying engaged, getting the help that they might need to graduate on time.”
Its graduation rate increased 1.5 percent in 2011 from the 2010 school year after falling each year from a period high of 91 percent in 2007.
By the numbers
Clark County average graduation rates 2001-11
Source: Ohio Department of Education.
Springfield News-Sun reporter Mark McGregor researched a decade of graduation rates for Clark County schools to bring home a national report.