By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Clinton graduation rates increased by 5 percent last year, more than five times the statewide increase.
While officials with the Clinton School District are pleased, the district remains 7 percent below the state average, leading them to maintain focus on continued improvement.
According to information released by the Iowa Department of Education on Wednes-day, the four-year graduation rate for Iowa’s class of 2012 in-creased by .94 percent to 89.3 percent. The Clinton School District had a four-year graduation rate of 82.6 percent in 2012, up from 77.5 percent in 2011. Of the 318 school districts in Iowa that have high schools, 54 percent saw an increase last year.
Clinton Curriculum Director John Jorgensen said the progress is likely tied to the district’s implementation of the response to intervention method, which requires an early and systemic approach to help struggling students.
“Clinton High School has put in lots of support to help kids stay at Clinton High School and graduate,” Jorgensen said.
Graduation rates for other area districts varied: Camanche had a 71.23 percent graduation rate, Central Clinton had a 95 percent graduation rate, Maquoketa had a 88.81 percent, Northeast 94.83 came in at percent and Preston had a 97.14 percent graduation rate.
Iowa graduation rates are calculated with a formula established by the U.S. Department of Education. Unique student identification numbers allow school districts to carefully account for all ninth-grade students as they move through high school. At the state level, the method helps determine when a student graduates, even if the student has switched districts in Iowa during high school, according to a written statement from the Iowa Department of Education.
Eight of Iowa’s 10 largest school districts reported increases in four-year graduation rates. Of those districts, Des Moines Public Schools reported the largest gain of 3.47 percent; the district’s overall four-year graduation rate is 79.15 percent.
The annual drop out rate across the state decreased in the 2011-2012 school year to 3.2 percent. The year prior it was 3.38 percent. The Clinton School District had a 7.28 percent drop out rate, according to the state report, down 1.6 percent from the previous year.
By continuing to refine the district’s focus on individualized student instruction, Clinton Superintendent Deb Olson said she believes the district will see more students succeeding in school.
“Every individual kid, that is the focus so we aren’t losing kids. Every child is getting the attention they need,” Olson said. “We’re on a path that we believe will continue to improve these numbers.”
Other area school districts ranged from zero drop outs at the Preston Community School District to 6.3 percent at Camanche. In Northeast only .36 percent of students dropped out, in Central Clinton the dropout rate was .59 percent and in Maquoketa the drop out rate was 3.84 percent.
The report also measures the five-year graduation rate, which reflects students who were part of a graduating class but took an extra year to complete high school. They include students with disabilities and students in at-risk programs.
The state five-year graduation rate for the class of 2011 was 91.4 percent, a decrease from 91.8 percent the previous year.
The five-year graduation rate in Clinton is 10 percent below the state average, at 81.2 percent. This number has decreased from 83.6 percent the year before.
Surrounding school districts all had a higher five-year graduation rate. Preston came in the highest at 100 percent. Following was Northeast with 96 percent, Central Clinton with 93.9 percent, Maquoketa at 92.19 percent and Camanche at 84.13 percent.