Lancaster Newspaper Highlights Octorara Graduation Rates

GraduationIIDebbie Wygent, the LancasterOnline reporter covering the Octorara Area School District, had a piece in the newspaper this week focusing on Octorara’s graduation rate discussion, from this past school board meeting.

The Octorara School District is working toward a 100 percent graduation rate, and the community will see improved graduation numbers, Superintendent Thomas Newcome told the school board Monday.

“The truth is, we have about 10 students per year who drop out or get their GED, and 10 students per year who do not graduate on time,” Newcome said. “Graduating late is a better option than not graduating.”

Newcome was asked by board members to explain the school district’s 72 percent graduation rate for the 2011-12 school year after Timothy Alexander of Parkesburg spoke during Monday’s meeting and called the school district’s graduation rates “abysmal.” Alexander, who is running for a school board seat in Region 3, suggested local taxpayers are not getting a good return on their investment.

Newcome said the 72 percent graduation rate for the 204 students in the Class of 2012 reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Education is actually low and incorrect. However, the school district missed the October deadline to correct and appeal the number.(Read more…)

The report stated the district’s correct graduation rate should actually fall somewhere between 84.62 to 92 percent.

Based on Dr Newcome’s number’s of 20 actual student dropouts or held back, the graduation rate should be 90%. The difference is a total of roughly 31 students who are claimed to have transferred between 9th and 12th grades, but proper documentation is missing. The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s accountability system has a goal of 85% (or a 10% reduction in the difference between the previous year and 85%).

The flip side of the argument was also represented.

Scott Grimes of Parkesburg also spoke, saying his two daughters participated in arts, academics and sports and went on to attend private colleges.

“I’m very pleased with the investment of my tax money, and I thank you for that,” he said to the school board.

Dr Newcome’s response was not reported, but was straightforward and honest. He was thankful Mr Grimes’ daughters did so well, but he did not shy away from the fact the school is falling short with too many students.

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