Jul 26, 2014

Woonsocket Graduation Rate Lags Behind State

Woonsocket High School has made improvements, but just about two-thirds of students ultimately graduate.

Woonsocket Graduation Rate Lags Behind State
More than three-quarters of Rhode Island students finish school through graduation, but in Woonsocket, that number drops to two-thirds, according to Rhode Island Kids Count, which released the new numbers Monday morning.

The latest findings show Rhode Island's graduation rate for 2012 was at 77 percent, up from 70 percent during the previous study in 2005. Classical High School leads the way with a 97 percent graduation rate, followed closely by Barrington High School at 95 percent and East Greenwich at 94 percent. On the other end, Mount Pleasant and Central high schools in Providence tied for the lowest graduation rate at 56 percent.

Woonsocket High School falls toward the bottom of the pack with a 66 percent graduation rate, the fourth lowest in the state. The school also recorded the fourth-highest dropout rate in the state — 22 percent, behind Mount Pleasant (30 percent), Providence Career and Technical Center (27 percent) and Hope High School (23 percent). 

Still, the numbers represent a strong improvement for Woonsocket over 2007. The state includes Woonsocket — along with Providence, Central Falls and Pawtucket  in its list of four core cities needing improvement. Those cities combined for a 10 percent increase in their graduation rates, from just 56 percent in 2007.

“It is crucial that school leaders set up early warning systems to identify students who are struggling in school and implement strategies to ensure that students get the support they need to succeed in school,” Kids Count Policy Analyst Stephanie Geller said in a release. “There are a few key indicators that can be observed, measured and monitored as students go through school, and they should be part of any effective early warning system.”

Kids Count makes the following recommendations for schools and communities to improve graduation rates:
  • Raise awareness among students, parents, and the general public about the connection between educational attainment and positive economic, social, and health outcomes.
  • Increase access to high‐quality early childhood programs, pre‐kindergarten, and full‐day kindergarten to prevent the achievement gap early on.
  • Ensure that all children read proficiently by the end of third grade, focusing on improving school readiness, reducing chronic early absence and increasing access to high‐quality summer learning.
  • Establish early warning systems that use data on attendance, behavior, and course performance to identify students at risk of dropping out.
  • Provide multiple pathways to graduation for all students who need them, including acceleration programs for students lacking credits, online instruction, flexible hours, partnerships with adult education and other community providers, and alternative completion models.
  • Ensure that school leaders have high expectations for all students and staff.
  • Focus on closing achievement gaps between low‐income and higher‐income students and white and minority students. Collect and report data on graduation rates for special populations.
  • Ensure that all students have effective teachers and that all teachers receive professional development opportunities focused on effective instructional practice and differentiated teaching methods for a range of learning styles.
  • Improve the school climate by focusing on teaching, modeling, and rewarding students’ positive behavior and revising disciplinary policies to ensure the equitable, appropriate, and limited use of suspensions and expulsions.
  • Improve communication with parents, especially when students are falling behind academically, frequently absent, or exhibiting troubling behaviors in school.

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