Janesville24.7°

Graduation rate improvement seen in Janesville

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 6, 2011
— The graduation rate—a worrisome statistic in some recent years—was better than the state average last year at Craig and Parker high schools.

District Director of Multicultural and At-Risk Programs Yolanda Cargile said she’s pleased but not content that more than 90 percent of students graduated from the high schools last year.


The graduation rates last year at Parker and Craig were the highest in at least five years.


“I’m always joyful when I see an increase, but you never should get lazy in your efforts to continue to raise those rates,” Cargile said.


The state Department of Public Instruction announced its most recent graduation numbers Thursday.


Graduation rates tell one side of the story of students who, for a variety of reasons, did not finish high school. Improving the rates is important in efforts to boost a community’s economic prospects, development experts believe.


Cargile noted that Janesville has a variety of programs to help young people get their diplomas, both before they turn 18 and even after their classes have graduated.


If a student stops showing up at school, social workers go out to find them and their parents. If that doesn’t work, police are sent, and truancy citations could be issued.


“All efforts are made to find those kids and bring them back. I want to really stress that,” Cargile said.


But sometimes, all efforts fail.


The efforts include a variety of alternative programs housed at Craig and Parker and in three Janesville charter schools—the Janesville Virtual Academy, the TAGOS Leadership Academy and Rock River Charter School.


Some of Rock River’s programs are for older students who dropped out. The programs allow them to finish off the credits they need or to get a graduate equivalency diploma, or GED.


The classes of 2010 for the charter schools did not do as well as the main high schools, and that’s why the district’s overall graduation rate is lower than either Craig’s or Parker’s, state officials said.


Rock River graduates are counted in the Craig and Parker numbers, but those who don’t graduate are counted in the overall district rate, officials said.


Schools face new graduation calculation

For years, high school graduation rates in Wisconsin were figured one way.


Now, they’ll be figured a different way.


This will sound familiar to anyone who has followed education statistics through the years.


Under the old “legacy” rate, which was used since the class of 2004, the number of students who graduated was divided into the number of students who were expected to graduate. The rate included students who took more than four years to graduate.


The new “four-year adjusted cohort rate” is the proportion of students who graduated after four years to those who entered high school four years earlier.


The class of 2010 was the first class in which the state tracked individual students through its new Individual Student Enrollment System. The system allows the state to calculate the four-year rate.


One result of the new calculation is a lower graduation rate. Janesville’s legacy rate for 2009-10, for example, is 87.5 percent. Its four-year adjusted rate is 84.1 percent.


The state legacy rate last year was 89.9 percent. The four-year rate was 85.7 percent.


The new rate is required by the federal government and will be used to rate districts as part of the No Child Left Behind legislation, said Patrick Gasper, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.


The legacy rate will continue to be used so officials can compare against previous years.



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