Grad rates in District 51 top state as a whole

For the third consecutive year, School District 51 graduated a higher percentage of students within four years than the state average in 2012.

Last spring, 77.7 percent of students who started ninth-grade in fall 2008 in District 51 (or elsewhere but transferred into the district during high school) graduated from a District 51 high school in 2011-12. That’s 2.3 percentage points above Colorado’s rate of 75.4 percent of students graduating in 2012 after four years in high school.

The gap between the district and the state four-year graduation rate was a narrower 1.6 percentage points in both 2011 and 2010.

District 51 Chief Academic Officer Bill Larsen said the district’s goal is to increase its graduation rate by 1.5 percentage points each year. He links the upticks the district has seen in recent years with increased efforts to keep track of students and help them with interventions or other support if they start getting behind at any point in high school.

“We’re monitoring so we don’t notice for the first time in their senior year they’re not going to graduate,” Larsen said.

District 51 and the state each had a dropout rate of 2.9 percent in 2012, down from 3.4 percent for the district in 2011 and 3 percent for the state in 2011.

Unlike the graduation rate, which tracks only seniors, the dropout rate tracks any student in seventh through 12th grade who dropped out of school. District policy requires students to stay in school until age 17, but some students are counted in the dropout category because they transferred to another district without informing their school they were leaving, among other explanations.

In the district, 8.7 percent of seniors in 2011-12 dropped out. Another 8.7 percent of last year’s seniors are still working on their diplomas or taking college classes as a fifth-year senior through the ASCENT program. An additional 2.7 percent of District 51 seniors completed a general education diploma some time during high school before they were scheduled to graduate in May 2012 and 3.6 percent graduated early. These percentages do not add up to 100 percent with the graduation rate factored in because not all 2011-12 seniors counted in the dropout rate were fourth-year seniors.

Mesa Valley Vision Home and Community Program had the district’s highest graduation rate last year, with 100 percent of its 13 seniors graduating on time. Grande River Virtual Academy had the district’s lowest graduation rate, with three of its 13 seniors earning a diploma for a graduation rate of 23.1 percent. Another two GRVA seniors earned a GED.

Ron Roybal, District 51 director of academic options, said the virtual academy graduated more than three people last year in its first graduating class. Data for the school are misleading, he said, because the program takes students who are up to 21 years old and sometimes has seniors who dropped out of school for a year or two so they aren’t counted in the four-year graduate count.

R-5 High is another school that has somewhat confusing data, Roybal said, due to taking older students who may have dropped out. Still, that school increased its graduation rate from 27.3 percent in 2011 to 29.6 percent in 2012. Fruita Monument High School, Grand Junction High School and Central High School also increased their graduation rates year-over-year, getting to 92.3 percent, 82.3 percent and 80.7 percent in 2012, respectively.

Palisade High School dropped from a graduation rate of 77.6 percent in 2011 to a rate of 76.3 percent in 2012.


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