Personal touch boosts Central High's grad rate

Aug. 09, 2013 @ 09:54 AM

High Point Central High School joined the specialty high schools this year that have contributed to the county school district’s graduation rate rising to a new record.
Although the school did not join Penn-Griffin School of the Arts, the Academy at Central High School and the group of schools with 100 percent graduation rates, High Point Central showed the greatest one-year gain of 6.9 percentage points, from 77.6 percent to 84.5 percent. The district 2013 average graduation rate was 86.2 percent, a new high.
Central High School Principal Bob Christina said  a new program he started with the Class of 2013 called Keeping Seniors on Track offered a personal touch.
Christina divided the senior class into 20 groups of five students each, then assigned each group to a school staffer as mentor.
“We met with our students weekly, targeting grades, homework, attendance, discipline, and what was going on at home. The personal relationship part was exceptional. It made the difference. It kept our seniors on track, because they knew there was someone on staff who was focused on their success,” Christina said.
One special target was a group of 150 students.
“And almost all of them graduated,” he said.
Performance among other High Point area high schools was mixed. Ragsdale High School was at 90 percent, up 3 points and Southwest was 92.1 percent, down just slightly from last year. T.W. Andrews was 86.9 percent, down from 87.6 percent. Ragsdale reached 90 percent for the first time ever.
For the district, the 2013 graduation rate was the highest since the state began calculating graduation based on a four-year cohort in 2006. At that time, the district graduation rate was 74 percent, a difference of 12.2 percentage points from 2013. The four-year cohort measures the number of students who entered ninth grade in 2009-10 and graduated four years later.
The Guilford County rate was up from 84.5 percent last year and exceeded the 2013 state average of 82.5 percent and rates in five other large school districts which were all below the state average.
“Once again, the data shows our students are making great strides, thanks to their efforts and the outstanding work of our educators,” said Superintendent Mo Green. “Our students are not only graduating at record rates, they are achieving educational excellence.”
Magnet schools and academies again had the highest graduation rates. At 100 percent were the Middle College at Bennett, the Early College at Guilford College, the Middle College at GTCC-Greensboro, the Middle College at GTCC-High Point, the Middle College at North Carolina A&T State University and Weaver Academy.
The district goal is to reach a 90 percent graduation rate.
“Graduation is the only option for us,” Green said. “You set the bar higher if you want to go higher. But funding is critical. To get to 100 percent, you need adequate funding. We have had to do more with less and that is not a good model.”
North Carolina’s high school graduation rate also was a record level at 82.5 percent, up from 80.4 percent in 2012. Among the other large districts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg was 81 percent, Durham County, 79.6 percent, Forsyth, 82.1 percent and Wake 81 percent.
The state’s graduation rate has risen by 14.2 percentage points over the past seven years. The gain mirrors similar trends nationwide. North Carolina, like other states, used to report inflated graduation numbers. But states were forced to come up with a more standardized measurement as part of the federal No Child Left Behind program.

The Class of 2013

Davidson County: The county schools graduation rate increased to 85.2 percent from 82 percent a year ago. Lexington City rose to 86.1 percent from 79 percent. Thomasville dropped to 71.4 percent from 77.8 percent.

Randolph County: Trinity High School was 90.9 percent, 91.1 percent for Wheatmore and 88 percent for Randleman High School.