Elkin City Schools graduated a higher rate of students in 2013 than any other school system in North Carolina.
State officials announced Thursday that Elkin High School had a graduation rate of 94.1 percent in the 2012-13 school year, the best it’s ever had and the best in the state for 2013.
North Carolina averaged 82.5 percent, an 11.6 point difference.
North Carolina’s rate has increased from its 2012 rate of 80.4 percent but was still no match for Elkin’s high graduation numbers.
Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe said the announcement was a major honor for the school system.
“Our most recent figures reflect our highest graduation rate ever,” Dr. Bledsoe said. “It exhibits our mission and obligation to the students, parents and community. Our responsibility to every child and this community is to make sure young men and women are equipped to face the challenges of further academic endeavors and his/her career pathway.”
“Over the past five years, Elkin City Schools has raised the Graduation Rate 8.9 percent and ranks us as a leading school system in the graduation rate,” said Shelia Settle, Director of Accountability and Testing.
The numbers were released as part of the 2012-13 Cohort Graduation Rate Report, presented to State Board of Education members Thursday.
The report measures the graduation rate for high school students in a four-year cohort. Each cohort is essentially a graduating class.
For instance, ninth graders who enter high school in 2009-10 and complete their degree in four years or less are considered a cohort.
Dr. Bledsoe gave the credit to Elkin’s faculty members.
“The teachers and staff from Pre-K through 12 are to be commended,” Dr. Bledsoe said. “They have provided a positive and caring environment for every student to grow academically and socially. Our teachers provide the highest academic standards and ensure that each student is connected, nurtured and wants to earn a diploma from Elkin High School. Our goal is to have 100 percent of our students graduate from Elkin High School.”
A press release for the annual report said since 2006, the first year the state reported a four-year cohort graduation rate, the percentage of students graduating from high school in four years or less has risen 14 percentage points – from 68.3 percent to 82.3 percent.
The record keeping started as the Class of 2006 began high school in 2002. Since then local school districts have monitored the 115 districts’ graduation rates. The state also began keeping record then of the progress overall.
Public and charter high schools were both included in the study.
Five-year cohorts were also listed in the report. The cohort includes students who take five years to receive their high school diploma.
Those numbers rose as well, increasing from a graduation rate of 81.1 in the state’s Class of 2011 to 83.1 for the Class of 2012.
Elkin City Schools officials are hoping to increase the number of graduating seniors even more with their 22-credit diploma. The diploma would identify at-risk students who might not be able to earn a high school diploma because of home or work issues.
The diploma would still require all the major course requirements but would eliminate the need for a student to take some electives.
The diploma is not for everyone, Principal Joel Hoyle said. Each student allowed to receive the diploma would have to meet requirements set forth by the school system and meet with faculty and staff members for consultations before beginning the degree.
Elkin City Schools will also be rolling out its new STEAM initiative as students return to school August 26.
STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math - will involve increased group projects and a meshing of all the curriculum focuses mentioned. Students will learn about different subjects no matter what classroom they happen to be in.
For instance, teachers could explain the history of a country through its fine arts, or explain military strategies on the ball field.
Elkin will be the first school system in North Carolina to be STEAM-focused, another way the schools are hoping to prepare students for life after graduation.
State education officials congratulated the entire state for the increase in graduation rates.
“Raising graduation rates begins in kindergarten and involves educators at every grade level,” State Superintendent June Atkinson said.
State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey also commended educators for their efforts to ensure that students graduate.
“The increase in our state’s graduation rate is a trend the Board is pleased to see continued,” Cobey said. “Although it is important that we celebrate this success, we still have a ways to go to ensure that all our students graduate career and college ready. This is wonderful news for our principals, teachers, counselors and students.”
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