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Graduation rates rise in Rowan-Salisbury, Kannapolis schools

The Rowan-Salisbury School System graduation rate rose for the fourth straight year, according to figures released today by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
This year, 82.9 percent of Rowan-Salisbury students who entered as freshman in 2009 graduated, compared with 81.1 percent who graduated in four years in 2012.
Kannapolis City Schools’ four-year graduation rate rose to 84.9 percent from 82.8 percent in 2012. That was down from the 2011 rate of 85.1 percent.
Both the Rowan-Salisbury and Kannapolis graduation rates topped this year’s statewide rate of 82.5 percent.
Among students who graduated this year but took five years to do it — entering high school as freshmen in 2008 — the rate was 82.7 percent, up from 79.2 percent last year.
“We are heading in the right direction,” Dr. Richard Miller, chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, said in a news release.
“We have a vision to focus on meeting the needs of all our students so they will graduate ready to be globally competitive for jobs that have yet to even be created. It is a challenge that we keep all our students in school, meeting their individual needs so they all will graduate with a diploma. This is a vision that will continue and grow stronger each year until all our students graduate from our high schools.”
This year’s Rowan-Salisbury graduation rate is the highest graduation rate the district has experienced in more than eight years, the system said, since the state began measuring the rate in “cohorts,” or groups of students who graduate together in either four or five years.
Prior to 2006, North Carolina reported only an “on-time” graduation rate, measuring only those students who graduated in four years of high school. Educators say the state didn’t accurately track students who transferred between schools and the old method didn’t adequately show students who dropped out of high school.
Kevin Garay, principal at A.L. Brown, the Kannapolis system’s only high school, said in a news release there are many reasons for the improved rate this year.
“We have put a major emphasis on helping our students graduate and making sure they are ready to succeed after high school,” he said. “Our STEM Academy and Fine Arts Academy have added more course offerings and helped engage students in school. We also have a Freshman Academy and strong credit recovery program that help more students graduate. Our staff members make personal contacts with students and give them the resources they need to finish school. I’m extremely proud of our staff and students, and I believe our graduation rate will continue to rise.”

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