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The Journal Gazette

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Saturday, January 13, 2018 1:00 am

Grad rates in county mostly on upswing

Many schools exceed state average

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Most public high schools in Allen County saw graduation rates increase in 2017, according to state data released Friday.

Seven of the county's 12 public high schools saw higher graduation rates, while five high schools saw rates fall, the Indiana Department of Education said.

Carroll's 98.8 percent graduation rate was the highest among local public schools.

“We've got people doing dances around here,” said Lizette Downey, spokeswoman for Northwest Allen County Schools, which includes Carroll. “We're ecstatic.”

Carroll Principal Brandon Bitting credited the work of students, staff, teachers, parents and others for the school's rate.

“It's truly a celebration for K-12 and all the work that's gone in,” he said.

Private schools Bishop Dwenger and Blackhawk Christian had perfect graduation rates.

The education department releases the rates for the previous year in mid-January. For 2017, the state rate was 87.2 percent, down from 89.1 percent the year before.

Most Allen County schools bested the state average, though North Side and South Side had lower rates. Horizon Christian Academy's 75 percent rate was also below the state average.

Districtwide rates for Fort Wayne Community Schools (89 percent) and East Allen Community Schools (91.4 percent) – each with five high schools – exceeded the state average.

Within FWCS, Northrop netted the top rate, 94.1. It was followed by Snider, 90.9, Wayne, 89.5, South Side, 85.5, and North Side, 82.8.

School board President Julie Hollingsworth said FWCS graduation rates have been above the state average four of the last seven years. One of the district's goals should be to graduate students who are college- and career-ready.

“And I think we're doing that,” Hollingsworth said.

Krista Stockman, a spokeswoman for the district, said urban schools often don't match or exceed the state average.

“As a district, we still remain above the state average,” she said. “For an urban district, that's a pretty big accomplishment. Until we get to 100 percent, we're going to keep working.”

At East Allen, the 97.1 percent graduation rate at East Allen University was the best. Heritage, 93 percent, Leo, 92.8 percent, Woodlan, 90.5 percent, and New Haven, 88 percent, followed.

A statement from Deborah Watson, East Allen assistant superintendent of secondary education, said the district is proud of rates.

“Four of the five schools are above 90 percent,” she said. “Our districtwide rate increased again this year. These rates represent the dedication and hard work being done in all of our schools by students, teachers, administrators and parents.”

Homestead's graduation rate fell slightly to 96.1 percent from 96.6 percent in 2016.

“We are proud of Homestead High School's graduation rates,” Principal Park D. Ginder said in a statement Friday. “From kindergarten to commencement, these numbers are a testament to the tireless dedication and efforts of (Southwest Allen County Schools) students, families, teachers, guidance counselors and our community partners as we work together to prepare today's learners for tomorrow's opportunities.”