The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 17, 2013

School districts turn to improving graduation rates

(Continued)

Any student who begins ninth grade with a class and then transfers out of the district is removed from the class total. But it’s up to each district to track that student and report that he or she should be removed from the cohort, Graff said, rather than end up in the “Unknown” category, which lowers the graduation rate.

Cindy Amoroso, Mankato director of curriculum instruction, said the district always looks to that average to help measure its performance.

“We’re a good 5 1/2 percentage points higher than the state,” Amoroso said, referring to the 77.6 percent state average. “That’s good news.”

Amoroso said the district has implemented a number of changes that are already impacting student retention and success. They include a ninth-grade academy to help with the transition into high school; academic and behaviorial interventions; revised curriculum; and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), an acceleration system that targets the academic middle and gets them on track for college. (St. Peter also has implemented the AVID system.)

“The majority of those changes have been put into place for the class that’s currently in 10th grade,” Amoroso said.

The 2012 data showed Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial’s four-year graduation rate was 98.15 percent with just one student out of 54 having dropped out.

“Knowing this district and the standards here, that sounds consistent with what expectations are,” said Supt. Tom Farrell.

Rates for smaller districts in the area with fewer than 40 graduates, including Nicollet and St. Clair, are not reported or calculated, Graff said.

The legal age to drop out of high school is 16. In this legislative session’s education omibus bill there’s a provision to raise the age to 17.

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