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Highlighted by a 20-percent improvement at North Hardin High School, 2011 graduation rates increased for each local high school, according to state data released this week.
North Hardin’s graduation rate for 2011 was 89.9 percent, up from 69.5 percent in 2010. Elizabethtown High School’s rate was 83.4 percent, up from 74.5 percent.
John Hardin High School had the highest rate with 91.7 percent, compared to 90.7 percent in 2010. Its rate also was the highest in the area in 2010. Central Hardin High School’s graduation rate was 83.2 percent, up from 82.6 percent, and LaRue County High School’s rate was 88.6 percent, up from 84.9 percent.
Each local school ranks above the state’s overall figure, which was 78 percent.
Graduation rates are determined through a model that compares a school’s number of graduates to its class enrollment as freshmen in 2007-08 and sophomores in 2008-09. This model will be used until 2013, when a new computation mandated by the U.S. Department of Education is implemented. That cohort model follows each freshman until graduation to track the rate.
The current model can be affected by issues such as population loss or growth and does not account for transfer students.
North Hardin Principal Lonnie Dennis said it was great to see excitement over the news of its graduation rate, and it made for a good first week of school.
“We’ve had a great start to the year already and this was just icing on the cake,” he said.
Dennis, who is taking over for the retired Bill Dennison, said counselors and staff members attribute the rate increase to the school’s credit recovery program. Students can work at their own pace through a computer program to make up for lost class credit during the summer and the school day. This puts students back on track to graduate.
Elizabethtown Principal Steve Smallwood said the school’s staff similarly was pleased to see its jump in the data.
The school recently implemented a graduation assistance program after officials felt its graduation and drop-out rates needed work. Smallwood said this would be the first year of data with the program in place.
The program includes staff members who work with individual students to identify graduation barriers and to move past them. Smallwood said he felt individual attention and making students comfortable at school made the difference.
Mark Kopp, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Hardin County Schools, said the district was pleased to see each of its three high schools improve.
“It’s the result of a great deal of hard work,” Kopp said.
Kopp said the credit recovery program was a large factor in the district’s success.
“I think it’s going to continue to be impactful,” he said.
Kopp also said John Hardin and North Hardin were in the top 30 high schools based on graduation rates.
“We’re very happy,” he said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2011 graduation rates
John Hardin High School: 91.7 percent
North Hardin High School: 89.9 percent
LaRue County High School: 88.6 percent
Elizabethtown High School: 83.4 percent
Central Hardin High School: 83.2 percent