Columbia Schools Above Average For Graduation Rates
COLUMBIA - A report released April 28th on gradnation.org revealed nationwide high school graduation rates have reached an all-time high.
The report, which can be found here, shows statistics for those who graduated in 2012, the latest year in which information was released.
Two of Columbia's high schools, Rock Bridge and Hickman, reported graduation rates of 82 percent and 83 percent respectively for 2012, which are above the national average. In 2013, Rock Bridge stayed steady at the same 83 percent rate, while Hickman dropped to 81 percent.
Dr. Tracy Conrad, principal of Hickman High School, said the reason the rest of the nation has caught up in terms of graduation rate might be because of the emphasis employers place on having a four year high school diploma.
"Students do not have an opportunity beyond high school in the workforce like they used to," Conrad said. "They need post-secondary training or education in some sort to be able to compete for entry-level jobs."
Principal Jennifer Mast of Rock Bridge High School said the higher rates have to do with a change in perception when it comes to education.
"I think it's probably a cumulative effect of a general change in thinking, in that schools are here to support students in their learning and not just provide an education," Mast said. "It sounds like they're the same thing, and they're really not."
Mast also attributes the change in part to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
"As much as we like to downplay the No Child Left Behind Act that was with us for so many years, it did somewhat foster a change in thinking about the need for supporting students outside of the regular classroom, and learning to change our instruction to reach more students," Mast said.
Both Rock Bridge and Hickman High School have taken steps to ensure their respective graduation rates stay well above the national average.
"We've been focusing on building significant relationships with our students so that they're more likely to stay in school," Conrad said. "We have a schoolwide response to intervention program that makes sure that we are on top of failing grades quickly, and we are providing interventions that are not optional for students."
"We started several years back with an advisory program to help students with transition and trying to understand how to be a student, how to study and be academically minded," Mast said. "We have teachers really bending over backwards to meet students' needs outside of their classrooms, and really inside of their classrooms as well."
For Megan Kelly, a senior at Rock Bridge, this rings true.
"You can pretty much get help whenever you need it," Kelly said.
The report states there is a goal to reach a national graduation rate of 90 percent by 2020.