Graduation rates rise in local public schools‘We’re proud,’ Superintendent Swinford says

Published 11:27 am Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Graduation numbers in the Vicksburg Warren School District are encouraging, Dr. Elizabeth Swinford said in releasing a preliminary state report.

The graduation rate for Vicksburg High School increased 4.5 percentage points, from 51.2 percent in 2010-11 to 55.7 percent in 2011-12, documents from the Mississippi Department of Education show.

VHS’s High School Completion Index, a calculation involving numbers of students who earn diplomas, receive GEDs, pass all school requirements but not the state’s Subject Area Tests, dropouts and other measures, increased from 23 to 79, the report shows.

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For Warren Central High School, the graduation rate decreased from 59.7 to 59, but its HSCI increased from 95 to 115, the preliminary report shows. Mississippi high schools can earn a maximum of 300 on the HSCI, Superintendent Swinford said.

“Our high school completion index — we’re proud,” Swinford said as she released the data Monday. “It means we are graduating more kids on time. It’s a trend we hope will continue, though we do expect there will be ups and downs, but we are hoping it will continue.”

Swinford said some of the improvement is due to more accurate record-keeping by school counselors when students request a transfer to other schools. Last year’s rates were skewed by incomplete documentation, Swinford said, when some students who had transferred were counted by the state as dropouts.

“That doesn’t account for 20 and 56 points, but it accounts for some of it,” she said. “We are also working with the kids and trying to meet their needs.”

Thursday, Swinford told administrators, teachers and staff assembled at the annual convocation that test scores earned this year by students will bump the district up from Academic Watch to Successful, which will be reported as a “C” grade rather than the descriptive term in use since 2009.

Meeting in June, the state Board of Education voted not to include graduation rates this year when a district’s accountability rating is calculated.

The Vicksburg Warren School District has nearly 9,000 students enrolled, including about 2,350 in the two high schools, and reported 381 graduates at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

State DOE reports of school and district test scores, official graduation rates and accountability grades are expected to be released this month, a department spokesman said two weeks ago.