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Graduation rate up despite low-performing school designations

The district may have received low grades, but most schools are still graduating students at a high rate, according to a report shown at Monday’s Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education meeting.

The Board of Education heard a presentation given by Eisa Cox, director of secondary education for Rowan-Salisbury, about the graduation rates of high schools in the district.

The high school graduation rate for 2015 is about 85 percent, which is right about where the state average is.

Some highlights from the presentation include Rowan Early College graduating 100 percent of its students for the fourth year in a row and both West Rowan and Carson high schools having a graduation rate above 90 percent.

The only school to experience a decrease was Salisbury High School, dropping to about 71 percent from about 73 percent the previous year.

Cox said the system has some of the best graduation rates in the state.

Board member Chuck Hughes said he was worried about the discrepancy between the district being designated as low-performing and the high graduation rates.

“I have to wonder, how can our grades drop so drastically and in the same year the graduation rates have gone up so significantly?” Hughes asked. “What type of education are these students leaving our school with?”

Cox said it all depends on what measures are used to evaluate students, while also mentioning that ACT scores for the students have also increased.

“I think we’re continuing to really look at the things on a broader scale, not just a report card grade,” Cox said.

Cox also said students may be excelling at other subjects that are not reflected in the grading used to evaluate the schools.

Hughes said he did not understand how grades evaluating the basics of learning, reading, writing and math, can drop but graduation rates still be high.

“It’s one of those mysteries of life,” he said.

Cox said every graduating student passed the minimum requirements to graduate.

“I can tell you that the students who go into these numbers all graduated with approved diplomas from the state of North Carolina,” Cox said.

In other business, the board discussed:

  • The changes in timing for athletic early dismissals;
  • Updates to the strategic plan;
  • Adding fencing and an additional school resource officer to Salisbury High School;
  • Establishing the board’s goals for the upcoming year;
  • Community forums being held by one, a few or all board members;
  • Establishing the budget priorities for the upcoming year.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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