Recently, the Indiana Department of Education released the graduation rate for the Clay Community School Corporation.
CCSC achieved an 83 percent compared to the 81.5 percent for the state. Clay City Jr./Sr. High School attained 94.8 percent while Northview High School attained 80.9 percent.
Members of the community have questioned the differences in the two numbers and both principals talked with The Brazil Times about graduation rates and student dropouts.
"It is important for the public to understand the concept of graduation rate in Indiana," Northview Principal Tim Rayle said. "The rate reported for Northview (80.9 percent) is the number of students who completed all of the state and local requirements in four years, which includes students who started as freshmen and also students who transferred in. Students who take five or six years to graduate are counted against us in this rate."
Graduation rate calculations changed with the class of 2006.
Before the 2005-06 academic school year, Indiana used a calculation that was recommended by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The rate was calculated by taking the graduation class of any year, the percentage of the class that did not dropout their freshmen year is calculated based on the October enrollment freshmen year.
Then, the percentage of students who did not dropout their sophomore year is calculated based on the October enrollment sophomore year. The same is done for junior and senior years. All the percentages are then multiplied together.
For example if you take 95 percent multiplied by 93 percent multiplied by 95 percent multiplied by 97 percent equals 81.4 percent.
"This graduation rate was not a four-year high school completion rate," Rayle said. "It calculated the percentage of students who persisted in school from one year to the next, regardless of their educational progress."
To calculate a four-year completion rate, individual students would need to be followed from admission into high school through graduation. This calculation became possible in Indiana with the 2006 graduating class.
The new formula began establishing a cohort (or class) of first-time freshmen that expands and contracts as students transfer in and out of school during the years that follow. The graduation rate that is calculated is only based on students who graduate in four years.
"The current four-year completion rate of 80.9 percent does not mean that 80.9 percent of our students graduated and 19.1 percent dropped out," Rayle said. "It does, however, indicate that 80.9 percent of students who entered Northview in the freshmen cohort met all of the state requirements in four years, and 19.1 percent did not meet the requirements in four years."
The state has 81.5 percent graduation rate under the new calculation, which doesn't include 8.7 percent who are dropouts, 1.1 percent who receive special education certificates, a 0.4 percent who receive non-diploma course completion and 7.2 percent who are still in school.
According to information provided by the Indiana Department of Education for CCSC, there is a 5.4 percent dropout rate, a 2.2 percent course completion and 1.6 percent special education certificate and 7.9 percent still in school.
According to school records, during the 2008-09 academic school year there were a total of 220 students who graduated from Northview and 63 students from Clay City High School. A total of 15 students dropped out from Northview and one from Clay City during the same school year.
"When a student decides they want to dropout then we have an exit interview with them," Clay City Principal Jeff Bell said. "We explain to them what the long-term side effects are of not graduating with a high school diploma."
Though both principals' deter students from dropping out, each student is given a copy of the law, which explains the process. It is also located in their student handbooks.
"No one wants a student to leave," Bell said. "No one would intentionally tell a student to dropout."
Including the exit interview, students are required to go through a process, which involves parents and principals, but the ultimate goal is to keep the student in school.
"Our actual dropout rate is less than three percent," Rayle said about Northview High School. "We all agree that this rate is unacceptable. However, in terms of completing high school, this is evident in the increase of the percentage of students graduating in four, five, and six years. This is also evident in the number of students actually not dropping out of Northview High School."
Both principals were steadfast in their unwavering views that all children should stay in school.
"The faculty and staff make every effort to ensure the success of our students," Rayle said. "We would like nothing more than to have zero students dropping out and we are working diligently to make this a reality."
Rayle was adamant that anyone who is interested in finishing school would not be turned away.
"We will talk with anyone who is willing to work," Rayle said. "The most rewarding moments come when working with at-risk students and seeing them graduate."