Guilford Co. grad rates riseBy Yasmine Regester / September 11, 2015
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Guilford County Schools, the third largest school system in North Carolina, has set a new graduation record for 2015 with 89.3 percent of its students graduating from high school.
Data released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction showed that GCS’s reported 2015 grad rate beat out 2014’s graduation rate of 88.5 percent and exceeded the state average of 85.4 percent.
Nine GCS schools achieved 100 percent graduation rates, while 10 other schools posted high school graduations of 90 percent or higher.
“There are more schools that are exceeding growth,” said GCS Superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green. “There is still room for us to make improvements and I have high expectations of our students. I know we can deliver better results.”
Green noted that although the school system is working on getting all students to the same level, gaps still exist between racial/ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficiency students and students with disabilities.
African American students’ graduation rates have made steady increases each year since 2008, where it was at 72 percent, and in 2015 it is at 88 percent, which is 4.7 points lower than White students.
“We start with altering attitudes from the beginning. ‘I’m graduating’ and that’s the bar that’s been set,” said Marcus B. Gause, principal of The Middle College at N.C. A&T State University. “There are always opportunities for growth. Those numbers represent a student we want to see meet our standards.”
Although The Middle College at N.C. A&T is designed for high achieving students, it is one of 20 schools that met and exceeded expected growth in 2015.
“We set the tone from day one. Everything we do is preparing them to be college and career ready,” said Angela Polk-Jones, principal of The Middle College at UNCG. “Academics has to be engaging. Making connections between classroom learning to real world events energizes the students.”
Rodney Boone, principal of The Middle College at GTCC Greensboro noted that students motivating other students is part of the increased graduation rate success.
“We believe the duty of achievement fuels the passion for success. We believe those who are already achieving can help stimulate those who aren’t achieving yet. Increased graduation rates begins in the classroom,” said Boone.
Both The Middle College at GTCC Greensboro and The Middle College at UNCG made the list of schools that exceeded growth expectations in 2015.
GCS officials are proud of what the students have been able to accomplish with a more rigorous curriculum standard set in place by the state. GCS reported increases in the percentage of high school students who are taking more challenging academic courses. Thirty-seven percent of GCS grads graduated with college credit.
“We are proud of our students, teachers, and staff for achieving these important and impressive milestones,” said Green. “Not only are more of our students graduating, but more are graduating with having already succeeded in college-level academics.”
Dr. Nakia Hardy, Chief Academic Officer noted that the school district is putting a focus on writing everyday through essays and writing prompts, to continue to increase test scores and student growth.
“It’s important that we continue the momentum with a continued focus on writing. One of the other things we are doing is asking teachers to develop critical thinking questions to allow students to orally explain what they are learning,” said Hardy. “It helps when teachers get to know their students and understand the needs each one has.”
North Carolina has some of the highest curriculum standards. According to GCS, a study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) ranked North Carolina second in the country for the toughest 8th grade math standards, third in the country for 8th grade reading and fourth in the nation for 4th grade reading and math.
Hardy noted that for students to be successful, there has to be a partnership between the schools and parents.
“It’s a partnership. Some of the things parents can do is read to them every day. Read labels at the grocery store. Have them write about their day. Help reinforce what’s happening in our schools,” said Hardy.
More information on graduation rates and scores can be found at www.gcsnc.com.