High school graduation rates on the rise - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

High school graduation rates on the rise

KILGORE (KYTX) - Some good news in the education world. Nationwide, more high school students are hitting the books and getting their diplomas within four years, and the trend continues right here in East Texas. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson explains how school districts are helping more students graduate.

The high school graduation rate in Texas has been a roller coaster over the past ten years. In 2001 the graduation rate was 65-percent, and that number dropped to 63-percent in 2008. But last year, the Texas Education Agency reported the on- time graduation rate was more than 84- percent. It's an increase East Texas schools are proud of.

"I'm definitely ready to graduate," said Kilgore High School senior Johnny Reinhart. "We've been waiting."

One reason more students like Reinhart are staying in school and receiving their diploma, is because teachers and counselors are holding students more accountable and not letting them slip through the cracks.

JR: "There's really a good emphasis on trying and the teachers here are really good and really good at motivating us to keep going."

Reinhart isn't alone. 217 students are part of Kilgore's graduating class of 2011.

"When they start in ninth grade we want them to complete their four years here with a diploma. We don't have 100-percent, we know that, but we try," explained Kilgore High counselor Janie Terrell.

Terrell said from phone calls to parents of students with extensive absences, to a special computer program that tracks student's credit requirement progress over the four years, student retention is a top priority. "We have a credit recovery program that is self paced, computer based program so that when students do fall behind we get them in here, visit with them, and set up some kind of plan to get them back on track."

And it's working. Terrell said students who may have dropped out are returning, and graduation rates continue to stay strong in Kilgore. "Some are going into the military, some are going to work, a large percentage will be planning to go to Kilgore College, we have quite a few who are going off to a university some place."

Reinhart is headed to a college for acting in New York City next fall, and he said knowing more students are receiving diplomas is promising. "I know that for me people are saying that we're the future and so if more people are graduating from high school, there's definitely a lot more promise in what we're giving to the world."

Another reason, Terrell said, the graduation rate in Texas has increased is a program started by the state last year.

It's called "Optional Flexible-Year Program". It's nine days out of the year designated to help seniors meet their graduation requirements. "OFYP" days are mostly used for improving borderline failing grades and make up days for students with too many absences.

2011 graduation rate information for the state of Texas and individual school districts will be available late July.  

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