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District graduation rate rises by 4 percent

By Staff | Dec 24, 2018

The graduation rate for Lee County School District students rose by 4 percent, the highest level in the district’s history.

“We are very excited. An increase in graduation rates means that we have more students prepared in order to meet the needs of the community,” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Wanda Creel said, adding that it’s a community endeavor. “Working together with our parents, business community and social groups that are in the community, we believe we can continue to find interventions and support for our students, so we can continue to see that increase.”

The 2018 graduation rate increased to 82.6 percent, a 4.1 percent hike. The year prior, the graduation rate was 78.7 percent. Other highlights include the African-American graduation rate increase by 6.1 percent, English Language Learners rate increase by 4.5 percent and Exceptional Student Education rate increase by 16.6 percent.

“These numbers are fantastic,” Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said in a prepared statement. “We are constantly improving student achievement and this proves that the direction we have taken is working. I am extremely proud (of) our students for their hard work and our staff for the dedication to student success.”

Creel said more than six years ago governors across the county came together to find a common way of determining the graduation rate.

“They made a determination not only for schools and districts, but states would look at the number of students that started in ninth grade and graduate within that four years and one summer,” she explained. “When we see an 82 percent considered for our graduation rate, it doesn’t mean they are not graduating. It means that they didn’t do it in four years and a summer. It took longer than four years and summer. It still counts, but not towards the federal graduation rate.”

Lee Virtual School had the largest gain throughout the high schools in Lee County, as well as East Lee County, who had a 9.5 percent increase.

For Cape Coral High School there were a total of 366 potential graduates, 336 of which graduated for a total federal graduation rate of 91.1 percent. Ida Baker High School had 412 potential graduates, 388 of which graduated for a total federal graduation rate of 94.2 percent. Island Coast High School had 331 potential graduates, 312 of which graduated for a total federal graduation rate of 94.3 percent. Mariner High School had 371 potential graduates, 349 of which graduated for a total federal graduation rate of 94.1 percent.

“There has been a focus over time with graduation cohort rating. The emphasis is helping not only to prepare students better for high school . . . this is a Pre-k through 12th effort,” Creel said.

With that said, the district is looking at its ninth grade students and making sure they are getting the credits they need for ninth and 10th grade and not falling behind. Personalized intervention, as well as individualizing instruction are being used to help the students reach their highest potential.

Creel said they have also spent time creating curriculum maps, so all of the teachers across the district have the standards outlined for them. This has helped in ensuring students are being exposed to standards and are being accountable for them. She said this has helped when students move from one school to another during a school year.

Although teachers may not be at the same place at day 17 of teaching content, within a week, or two, students are being exposed to the same thing. Creel said they have a mobile population and this helps the students not miss instruction from one school to another.