School district’s grad rate at 80 percent

by nathan oster

Greybull High School’s graduation rate dipped to 80 percent in 2010-11, putting it above the state average and squarely on the cutline of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) graduation rate approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Only nine of the state’s 48 school districts failed to meet the 80 percent threshold required for AYP.  The ones that didn’t include Washakie 1, Sweetwater 1, Carbon 1, Laramie 1, Natrona 1, Niobrara 1 and Fremont 14, 38 and 21.

According to the Wyoming Department of Education, 5,468 of the 6,857 who were eligible to graduate in the spring of 2011 actually earned their diplomas, which amounted to a 79.7 percent statewide gradation rate.

That is a slight dip from the previous year’s 80.4 percent graduation rate, which was based on 5,416 gradates from a cohort group of 6,735 eligible students.

The release explains that a “cohort graduation rate” is based on a group of students who begin as first-time ninth graders in a particular school year and then graduate with a regular high school diploma in four or fewer years.

The Greybull school district’s graduation rate had been on the upswing since a sharp, one-year falloff in 2008-09, when it dipped to 72 percent.  That year, 36 of the 50 eligible students in the cohort group graduated. But the district bounced back nicely in 2009-10. With a graduation rate of 92 percent (33 graduates, 36 eligible), Greybull ranked first in Big Horn County.

The state’s report for 2010-11 put the Greybull district’s graduation rate at 80 percent, with 36 graduates coming from a cohort group of 45 students.  With that rate, the school district topped the state average, but was below the graduation rates of the three other districts in the county.

GHS Principal Barry Bryant, who will take over as superintendent next year, said he expects the graduation rate for the current senior class to again top 90 percent.  As of Tuesday, he had it at around 92 percent for the 2011-12 cohort.

“The problem is, we are talking about some pretty small class sizes,” he said. “I think we’ll have 42 kids graduate this year … and if you’re missing just a few of those kids, it amounts to a lot (in terms of the graduation rate).”

Bryant said he has made keeping students in school one of his top priorities in his first year at GHS.

“Even one dropout is too many,” he said.  “We want every kid to graduate.”

Bryant said the school board’s goal is a 90 percent graduation rate and that it’s “attainable. But the only way is to stay on top of it. If a kid is not at school, we’re looking and trying to figure out why … we’re not waiting for someone to tell us.”