Columbia Public Schools reports graduation and dropout rates

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COLUMBIA – Students will leave class early on Tuesday as the 2017-2018 Academic Year comes to a close.

The Year in Numbers

Based on the most recent data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Columbia Public Schools (CPS) closes the academic year with a four-year graduation rate of 90.09 percent, compared to the state rate of 88.88 percent.

In addition, the dropout rate was at 2.6 percent for CPS schools, compared to the Missouri’s 2.0 percent.

CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said those numbers are the result of the work the school district has done regarding student support, interventions for students, and making sure of individualized attention for students to help them succeed academically,

"Every student has individual needs, every student has processes or things that would help them be successful throughout the course of their academic career," Baumstark said.

Compared to the last three years, the four-year graduation rate has remained relatively steady, as has the dropout rate.

Jan Mees, president of the Columbia Board of Education, said the work of the district has to start "from pre-school on up" to maintain graduation and dropout rates at a stable level.

"You have to have children ready to learn, and they have to be helped along the way by instructors who recognize they might need more reading intervention, they might need more math intervention, so that they are continuously tracked, so that they can be on target to graduate in the end," she said.

In 2017 46.2 percent of CPS graduates went into a four-year colleges or universities,  20 percent went into two-year colleges, and 2.6 percent of graduates entered a post-secondary technical institution.

"It's so important that our student receive a high school diploma because it is a pathway to success, whether that be as they move into employment, or as they move on to post-secondary education," Baumstark said.

She said one way the district encourages student to pursue higher education is to pay for students to take the ACT.

"Students who wouldn’t necessarily have considered themselves college-bound or even scholarship-eligible have the opportunity to take the ACT and see where that places them," she said.

Mees said CPS work closely with employers to make sure it is training students for the demands of the workplace.

"We tailor courses or have students take a various coursework to help them get those skills that they might need," she said.

Although composite ACT scores of CPS students have decreased in the last couple of years, from 23.30 in 2014 to 21.70 in 2017, the scores remain higher than the composite ACT score in the state.

New Infrastructure for 2018-2019 Academic Year

Columbia Public Schools will welcome some students with new infrastructure in the fall.

The new elementary school of the district, located in east Columbia, will open in August. About 500 students will take classes in the new building.

"It will replace the current Cedar Ridge, as well as alleviate some of the over-crowding at some of our other elementary schools in that area," Baumstark said.  

She said CPS is getting close to completing construction of the addition to Grant Elementary School.

In addition, CPS will begin two new infrastructure projects.

"The construction of a middle school in south Columbia, as well as looking at classroom addition to the newly named Locust Street Expressive Arts School," Baumstark said.  

Investment in Security

Mees says for the 2018-2019 academic year investment in security will have to be a priority.

"The Board has talked at length about it, part of the bond issue $750,000 was going to more infrastructure and/or security improvement within our school buildings, so that we can make our kids as safe as we can," she said.