Official state numbers released to individual school systems Wednesday show Carrollton High School’s graduation rate improved 3 percent over the previous year with 92 percent of the Class of 2019 earning a high school diploma.
And while it is important to acknowledge this increase as a metric indicating school improvement, it is also prudent to recognize the overall preparedness of the graduates and what their post-secondary plans entail, said Dr. Mark Albertus, superintendent.
“We are extremely proud of each individual for achieving this important milestone, but we are also proud to see what our graduates are doing after they leave the halls of CHS,” he said.
Of the Class of 2019’s 388 graduates, 67 percent are or will be attending four-year colleges and 12 percent are or will be attending two-year schools. In total, 116 schools accepted CHS students, and of those schools, graduates have committed to attend 60 of them across the country, according to statistics compiled by the CHS Guidance/Career Center. Three percent of the remaining students will enter the military and 18 percent plan to enter the workforce.
CHS Principal David Brooks also noted Carrollton’s rate is impressive despite the fact that students have to earn more credits to get a CHS diploma than what the state requires.
“I cannot express enough how proud I am of our students and teachers in maintaining such high expectations,” he said. “As our numbers have grown, we have remained true to our relentless pursuit of excellence, and this is demonstrated by the solid graduation rate performance each and every year.”
One program that has helped increase the graduation rate is the Performance Learning Center, which was launched the 2013-2014 school year, said Brooks. Students who sign up for the program have the opportunity to attend classes in a supportive, flexible learning environment. Brooks said the customized approach in this design has been beneficial in helping these students achieve what may have seemed out of reach – a high school diploma. Since inception, the PLC has produced more than 100 graduates who likely would have become dropouts without the program.
However, Albertus pointed out there are times when doing what is right for students can have a negative effect on a school’s graduation rate. Even though the graduation rate has improved the last two years, Albertus noted a development that impacted the 2017 calculation was the implementation of Project SEARCH, an internship transition program designed for students with disabilities that requires for participation another year of high school enrollment for otherwise graduation-eligible students. In 2017, seven students who could have graduated that year stayed on the CHS student roster, lowering the number of graduates in that cohort and negatively impacting that year’s graduation rate by 2 percentage points.
“Project SEARCH is a great program and we’re proud to be a part of it,” said Albertus. “Through our partnership with UWG, these internships help our students develop the life skills necessary for a successful entry into the workforce. This is just another example of our commitment for lifelong preparedness after high school.”
Project SEARCH and the PLC are just two of many strategically-designed supports to encourage students to graduation. Whether it is a focus on visual or performing arts, participation in one of the many athletic teams, or engaging in world-class academic studies, every experience is structured to maintain student interest in participating and graduating from high school, said Albertus, who also served as principal for CHS for eight years.
“Whether students need the academic rigor of our International Baccalaureate program and Advanced Placement courses, or require increased flexibility in their learning environment, Carrollton High School is able to provide the time, energy, and resources to meet their needs,” he said. “Graduation and success beyond high school are the ultimate goals we have for each and every student who is enrolled in our district. Our school board and community are passionate about providing the highest quality of education for our students, and the continuous increase in our graduation rate is evidence of this commitment.”