CPS follows national trend of higher graduation rates

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COLUMBIA - The U.S. high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, and Columbia Public Schools continue to see an increase in the rate. 

The White House announced on Monday morning the U.S. graduation rate hit 83.2% in 2015. 

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary education, CPS's graduation rate for 2015 was 90%, two percent higher than the state average. 

Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said that the district encourages students to look beyond graduation. It puts an emphasis on making sure kids are "college and career ready." 

Baumstark reported 76.5% of the district's graduates go on to college. 

However, some students face special challenges in graduating. Douglass High School is the alternative high school for the district and enrolls between 100-200 students each year. 

Douglass High School Principal Eryca Neville says a number of things can bring a student to Douglass. Students at the school deal with family relocation, pregnancy, instability at home, or simply need intensified instruction. 

"All students don't neccessarily function in high schools with over a thousand kids in it," Neville said. 

Once enrolled they recieve a more personalized education. 

"We do wrap-around services," Neville said. "We interview all the students that come in." 

Douglass has several services available for students, including a food pantry, a daycare and family counseling. 

Neville said recieiving a high school diploma or equivelent means not only access to a two or four year college or technical program, but at the very least, a living wage. 

Douglass saw a shocking 41.8% drop-out rate in 2009, but the figure decreased to 14.4% in 2015. 

The school's original building on N. Providence Road is being renovated this year, and students and staff are currently using a leased space.