By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Edgecombe County Public Schools’ graduation rates are holding steady, just under the statewide rates. The Edgecombe County Board of Education received the news of last school year’s rates at its Monday evening meeting.
The county’s four-year cohort graduation rate dropped 2.4 percentage points, from 79.8 percent in 2011-12 to 77.4 percent in 2012-13. The statewide graduation rate last school year was 82.5 percent.
A 2012-13 four-year cohort refers to a group of students who entered ninth grade in 2009-10 and graduated on schedule, in 2012-13. The five-year cohort represents students who entered ninth grade in 2008-09 and needed an extra year to meet graduation requirements, also graduating in 2012-13.
“While the district dropped two percentage points last year, our five-year cohort graduation rate has risen 17 percentage points since 2008-09,” said Superintendent John Farrelly.
“Look at where we were in ’08 and where we are now,” said Board Chair Ann Kent. “We have made a huge step over the last few years and that’s something our district should celebrate.”
ECPS Director of Accountability Janet Morris commended all the county’s high schools for the gains.
“The high schools…have made a conscious effort in monitoring and tracking student progress,” she said.
SouthWest Edgecombe High School’s rate increased from 75 percent in 2011-12 to 80.3 percent in 2012-13. Edgecombe Early College High School had a 100 percent graduate rate in 2012-13.
“We certainly want to commend the Early College and SouthWest for improving their four-year cohort graduation rates,” Morris said.
Graduation rates at the county’s other two high schools dropped last year. At North Edgecombe, the rate dropped from 91.5 percent in 2011-12 to 78.8 percent in 2012-13, and at Tarboro High, the rate dropped from 82.1 percent in 2011-12 to 72.7 percent in 2012-13.
“We are ecstatic with the graduation rate gains at Southwest Edgecombe High School this past year. Southwest made significant gains by jumping over 5 percent in one year. That is a tremendous achievement for a school that size. My hat goes off to Principal (Marc) Whichard and all of the Cougar stakeholders!” said Superintendent John Farrelly. “We are equally thrilled with the Edgecombe Early College 100 percent graduation rate! This is the third year in a row that EEC has achieved that mark. While we had drop-offs at both Tarboro High School and North, I am confident that our new committed leaders and staff will raise the bar in 2013-14.”
The Early College is one of approximately 41 schools in North Carolina with a 100 percent graduation rate, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The Early College graduated 27 students in May 2013.
“We would like for all of our schools to look like our Early College rate,” said Board Vice Chair Evelyn Wilson. “I feel good that we’re moving in the right direction on that…Our effort is to keep our students in school and moving forward.”
The upward spiral in local graduation rates, from 58.2 percent for the four-year cohort in 2008-09 to 79.8 percent last school year, follows a statewide trend.
Graduation rates in North Carolina have edged up every year for the past four years, from 71.7 percent in the 2008-09 school year to 82.5 percent in 2012-13.