High school graduation rates increase in Missouri

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PRAIRIE HOME - A new report by the U.S. Department of Education shows Missouri is in the top ten for high school graduation rate in the nation, and Mid-Missouri schools have seen a bump as well.

The U.S. Department of Education released data showing Missouri's 4-year high school graduation rate is 87.3 percent in 2013/2014. That's an increase from 85.7 percent from 2012/2013. The national average is 82.3 percent. 

Patrick Tray, principal of Prairie Home R-V High School, said his school has had a 100 percent graduation rate for the past four years that he's been in charge.

"We're in a really good community," Tray said. "People really care about education. They find it to be something important in their children's lives so the more that the parents find it to be important the better chance a child will stay in school."

Tray says the enrollment rates tend to fluctuate. The enrollment at Prairie Home is currently 148 students. 

Tray also gave lots of credit to the area's alternative school for the perfect graduation rates. He says it's a good option for kids who weren't necessarily on track to graduate.

"We've recommended that a few kids go up to the alternative school in Boonville," Tray said. "We've had, since I've been here I think three graduates from the alternative school so that's another way to get kids to graduate."

"When your largest graduating class is 20 kids, if you have one drop out that makes a huge difference in your percentages. We're able to be very personalized, individualized, help kids out where we can," Tray said.

Tray said because people in the Prairie Home community value education it is easy to keep kids enrolled.

In the past five years, Columbia Public Schools has had mixed results when it comes to graduation rates. Rock Bridge High School and Hickman High School have seen a drop, while Battle High School and Douglass High School have seen an increase.

Michelle Baumstark, community relations director for Columbia Public Schools, said the graduation rates for Battle High School are skewed because the first graduation class had only two students. Baumstark said Battle will have a true graduation rate in a few years after several hundred students have graduated.

[Editor's note: this story has been updated to include a statement from Columbia Public Schools.]

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