Graduation rates and district solutions - Part 2
BY GLENN ROHRBACKER
In a report from the New York State Department of Education, South Country Central School District earned a 85.4 percent graduation rate for June 2018, and reached 90 percent with August graduates included. The following discussion with superintendent Joseph Giani outlines some of the initiatives the school district has taken to ensure student success.
Moving alternative learning program to Bellport High School
The graduation rate has grown substantially over the past five years, from 75 percent in 2013, according to data provided by the district. Superintendent Joseph Giani credits the increases to many of the programs that promote individualized and intensive learning. He said eliminating an ineffective alternative learning program at the South Haven School and moving it to Bellport High School made a major difference. Over the school year the change was made, 2016-17, the graduation rate jumped from 75 percent to 84 percent, with an August rate of 88 percent. The new intensive education program, he said, has proved much more effective and students have had a better experience. The district has added the program to the sixth grade curriculum starting this year.
Professional development programs
Giani also said that professional development for educators has allowed more effective learning for students. In elementary schools, a special K-5 program in reading and writing has helped to improve students down the road, as well as through the math-focused program.
Culinary and Visual Enterprise and Junior Cadets offer possibilities
Giani also credited the CTE programs, Culinary and Visual Enterprise, with allowing more students to succeed. He said students are more likely to do well and learn more when they “have things you enjoy doing.” Another new program is the Junior Cadets, similar to Junior ROTC, which allows students to go through personal training and other elements of training for military service. Giani said this gives an additional opportunity for students after high school. The course is run by teachers who were in the military at some point.
Credit Recovery and Regents support classes
There are other programs that aim to help students keep on track to graduate, like Credit Recovery, which allows students who may have missed work or a certain class to make it up after school. There are also Regents support classes to prepare students for the high-stakes exams. Giani said the summer school program has also allowed more graduates to reach their goals, where students can make up time lost during the year or get extra help to learn.
After-school program for grades 6-8
Programs are K-12, Giani said, and are meant to set students up for success as they grow up. This year also saw a new after-school program for grades 6-8 through a state grant. The program is part educational and part enrichment. Students can take advantage of tutors and homework assistance and then be involved in activities that enhance their learning. Giani added that the elementary schools have provided a strong foundation for students, both through small class sizes and adequate staffing through teachers and teaching assistants. Now, each elementary school also has an after-school program meant to help students who are struggling or would like to be more engaged in their education.
“We’re pretty proud of the increases over the past five years,” Giani said of the graduation rates. He added that the hard work of teachers and administrators has made it possible to continue improving.
Next week, through a conversation with the superintendent and assistant superintendent, we will look at what the graduation rate means for the William Floyd School District.
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