Graduation rates slip at Parkland and WSPA

Graduation rates slip at Parkland and WSPA
September 11
00:00 2014

Countywide, graduation rates increased for the seventh straight year, but Parkland High School and Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy saw their rates slip from 2013 to 2014.

The drop was significant at WSPA, from 94.4 percent in 2013 to 75.6 percent this year. The school’s rate has ebbed and flowed. It was 100 percent in 2012 and 77.1 percent the year before that.



“This year we took a drop, but if you go back and look at our overall rates, we have had good rates, and then we bounce back, and we are going to bounce back,” said Principal Richard Watts.

Watts said that because the school is so small – only 236 students – one or two students not graduating has a huge impact of the graduation rate.

“We have to make sure the freshmen stay with us, graduate with us,” he said. “We have to do a better job of keeping our freshmen on target, which means that if our freshmen are at a 1.5 grade point average, we have to do something different to make sure they get their grade point average up to a 2.0.”

Parkland saw only a small decrease, from 82 percent to 79.3 percent, which is still better than its rates from 2008 through 2012.

“I think that we are making incremental rate increases and are putting special attention on our students as they get closer to graduation,” said Spencer Hardy, who is in his first year as Parkland’s principal. “We want to find those avenues to assist (students) toward graduation by gathering resources to keep them from dropping out or not finishing on time.”

Hardy said programs are in place to help students graduate. A week-long freshmen orientation is offered before the start of the school year to allow incoming students to become acclimated with the curriculum and complete pre-testing. The school also offers tutoring – and even transportation for students who stay to be tutored. A family engagement coordinator is also employed at Parkland.



“We have to make sure those students have a firm foundation coming into high school, that they feel comfortable, they have some idea what is expected of them and we need to make sure we provide a welcome environment,” Hardy said.

Carver High School improved its rate to 80.7, nearly seven points higher than last year’s and nearly 14 percent higher than it was in 2008. Its Jacket Academy at Carver saw a slight dip this year, after posting a perfect 100 percent rate in 2013.

New Carver Principal Travis Taylor said he is still not satisfied and is aiming for 90 percent next school year.



“We are specifically targeting our students who we know may have a propensity to drop out,” he said. “Those are our students with low-academics, low-attendance rates and those students who have behavioral issues. We are putting together a circle of support for those students so that they can be successful, get back on track and find different avenues for them to move forward. We hope that in four years, we will be a 90-90-0 school, having 90 percent of our students graduate in four years, 90 percent of those students going on to a 2 or 4- year college or military after graduation and 0 percent of our students having to take remedial courses once they move on to college.”

Carol Montague-Davis, the assistant superintendent for secondary schools, said schools’ effort to retain students are being supported with extra resources.



“We are putting some programs in place like putting money in for graduation, grade recovery and we have different types of initiatives to help kids graduate,” she said.

Montague-Davis said that the system understands that the graduation process does not start in 12th grade and that efforts are being made to reach students as soon as they enter high school.

“We are paying attention more to our ninth graders because we know that is the age where most kids decide whether or not they are going to continue on because they hit the age of 16,” she said. “At that point, it becomes their decision by the state of North Carolina. We want their decision to be that they want to stay in school and finish.”

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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