Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 23, 2014

Cardinal posts highest graduation rate in school history

By DIANE VANCE | Feb 28, 2013

ELDON — Cardinal Community School District Superintendent Joel Pedersen is happy to share the news that last year’s high school graduates, the Class of 2012, ranked the highest in the school’s history with a 98.51 percent four-year graduation rate.

“This represents 66 out of 67 students,” said Pedersen. “We will always welcome students back even though it may take more than four years to graduate.

“This is a huge accomplishment to celebrate with staff, students, families and our school community,” he said. “We can and are making a difference for our students and families. We must remember this every day and focus on every interaction we have in the schoolhouse. We have a chance to make things better by our actions and ‘choice words.’”

Pedersen said the high percent graduation rate shows the district is overcoming obstacles to graduation, such as poverty, through building strong relationships with students and families and by improving instruction.

“Notice that I said relationships first,” said Pedersen. “That will be my ‘battle cry’ until the day I retire.”

Schools measure poverty by looking at numbers of students qualifying by household income for free and reduced meals.

Cardinal high school and middle school had a free and reduced lunch rate of 50.4 percent in school year 2011-12; the elementary was higher, at 67.1 percent, giving the district an overall total of 58.8 percent of students who applied qualified for free and reduced lunches.

“The numbers are higher this school year,” said Pedersen.

The four-year cohort graduation rate is calculated for the class of 2012 by dividing the number of students in the cohort (numerator) who graduate with a regular high school diploma in four years or less, by the 2011-2012 school year, by the number of first-time ninth graders enrolled in the fall of 2008 minus the number of students who transferred out plus the total number of students who transferred in (denominator).

Iowa school districts’ graduation rates are posted on the state Department of Education website as of Wednesday.

Fairfield Community School District’s four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2012 was 80.92 percent. Fairfield High School’s enrollment in the 2011-2012 school year was 545 students, according to the state website.

For comparison with the previous year’s class, the Class of 2011, only the five-year cohort graduation rate, 88.89 percent is figured, not the four-year rate.

“It is an area of concern,” said Superintendent Art Sathoff about the 80.92 percent. “We have expanded our alternative program and are working with Response to Intervention strategies in an effort to reduce our number of dropouts, which was 20 in the most recent report. Several years ago that number was 30.

‘The percentages get figured different ways, in four-year and five-year cohorts. Students who elect to pursue a GED or return to school to finish after an absence end up hurting a district’s cohort graduation rate.”

Pekin Community School District’s four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2012 was 98.31 percent.

Van Buren Community School District’s four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2012 was 85.48 percent.

Iowa’s statewide average four-year graduation rate in 2012 was 89.26 percent, an increase of 0.94 percent from the 88.32 percent rate for Iowa’s class of 2011, which led the nation in state four-year graduation rates.

The state’s 2012 graduation rate also remains above the 2010 rate of 88.8 percent.

“The graduation rate for Iowa’s class of 2012 climbed statewide from the previous year, “ said information on Iowa Department of Education website.

Graduation rates increased for all but two subgroups of students — Native Americans show a statewide 6.49 percent decrease in graduation rates for the Class of 2012.

Significant increases in graduation rates were seen in these subgroups:

• 3.94 percent among students whose first language is not English

• 2.82 percent students with disabilities.

• 1.59 percent students from low-income backgrounds.

The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2012 increased from the previous year in 172 school districts (54 percent) out of the 318 Iowa districts that had high schools. Ten school districts (3 percent) saw no change in graduation rates from the year before, while 136 districts (43 percent) saw a decrease.

Iowa graduation rates are calculated with a formula established by the U.S. Department of Education.

Unique student identification numbers allow school districts to carefully account for all ninth-grade students as they move through high school. At the state level, the method helps determine when a student graduates, even if the student has switched districts in Iowa during high school.

“Iowa’s graduation rate is a testament to the hard work and commitment that teachers and school leaders show in classrooms across the state,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass. “While we work to continue that momentum, we also must look beyond the high school diploma and make sure all students are prepared for success after high school.”

 

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