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Lafayette Parish High Schools Make Significant Gains in Graduation Rates
Today, the Louisiana Department of Education released preliminary data on graduation rates for high schools across the state. The data reflect the graduating class of 2014-2015 and identify the percentage of students who graduated from high school in four years. The combined graduation rate for schools in Lafayette Parish was 75.9%, a significant gain over the previous year’s graduation rate of 68.8%. The 7.1% growth in Lafayette Parish high schools significantly outpaced the 2.8% growth in the state average over the same time period. Lafayette high schools also made significant gains in the graduation rate of some subgroups. For example, the graduation rate for African American students rose 11.9 points from 57% to 68.9%. Officials from the Louisiana Department of Education have indicated that school-level data will be released in the very near future.
Northside High School principal Julia Williams attributes the gains to efforts on the part of the school and the district to keep students interested in school and to show them what life after high school with a diploma can look like. “We have more pathways in high school to fit the individual needs and interests of our students as well as support from the district with programs like GEAR UP. The graduation coaches that GEAR UP provides take our students out into the community to places like UL Lafayette and SLCC and show them what possibilities are out there for them,” said Williams. Donald Thornton, principal of Lafayette High School, also noted that “more effort than ever before is being put into helping high school students find the pathway that really fits them, and at Lafayette High we work hard to meet students’ academic needs, but we also make an effort to offer electives and extracurricular activities that will build student spirit.” Both principals also indicated that there has been a significant effort on the part of school and district personnel to clean up data that showed more high school dropouts than actually existed.
Superintendent Aguillard and district leaders are committed to helping schools realize continued growth in their graduation rates. Additionally, they are committed to strategies intended to increase another measure of high school accountability, the graduation index. The graduation index, sometimes referred to as the strength of diploma index, awards students with a high school diploma 100 points, but it awards more points for students who earn college credit during high school or make passing scores on Advanced Placement and College Level Examination Program exams.
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