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Vicksburg Warren School District reports strong growth in graduation rates

The Vicksburg Warren School District announced Friday that recent graduation rates — those for 2019-2020 were the highest ever reported by the District.

In a statement Friday, the District reported the 2019-2020 4-year graduation rate, confirmed Thursday by the Mississippi Department of Education’s Board of Directors, was 86.9 percent. That figure not only set a record for the District but surpassed the last posted national average graduation rate for the first time.

“We are celebrating the hard work of our students, families, teachers and staff today,” said Superintendent Chad Shealy. “By helping students connect with an exit strategy — enrolled, enlisted, entrepreneur or employed with meaningful credentials, we are engaging them in relevant learning and building strong student/teacher relationships. We know these are the things that impact efficacy and increase our graduation rate. It is also the best thing to do for our students’ long-term success.”

Since the 2009-2010 school year, the District’s graduation rate has increased 35.2 points. Over the same time period, the state’s average graduation rate increased only 13.6 percentage points. This accomplishment also exceeds the school board’s original strategic goal of increasing the graduation rate by 20 percentile points.

“The Vicksburg-Warren Economic Development Partnership is proud to see the progress made by the Vicksburg Warren School District on their graduation rates. We commend Superintendent Shealy and the excellent team of teachers, administrators, students, and parents who have made this impressive achievement possible,” Partnership CEO Pablo Diaz said. “Economic development success for our community depends in part on the quality of our educational systems and the workforce they prepare. This achievement will certainly help us in selling our community to investors and in creating more and better jobs.”

The report also showed that Vicksburg High School and Warren Central High School showed “meaningful increases” in their graduation rates.

Vicksburg reported an 88 percent graduation rate, which is better than both the national average rate and Mississippi’s average graduation rate of 87.7 percent. Warren Central reached an 86.28 percent rate — 1.28 points above the national average.

River City Early College High School reported a 100 percent graduation rate for their Class of 2020 seniors. Students who graduate from River City are officially counted at their zoned high school.

The 4-year graduation rate is a major factor in the Mississippi Department of Education’s accountability model, accounting for up to 200 of the 1000 possible points. MDE’s changes to the accountability model over the years, such as not including special education students or students who graduate in more than four years, have made it even more challenging, the District said, to increase the graduation rate.

“If these students were counted, our graduation rate would be even higher, somewhere around 89 percent. The data tells us that what we are doing is working,” Shealy said. “We will keep expanding the programs that are in place and continue to focus on providing our students a jump-start to their future. Our vision is to graduate all — and all means all — students college, career and life prepared. We will keep pushing to accomplish this for the betterment of our students and the community.”

The District reports the current graduation rates — for 2021 — are predicted to be even higher.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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