Source: Sherman Publications

State grad rates increase, while Oxford holds steady

by Trevor Keiser

February 20, 2013

While Oxford Community Schools have experienced about the same graduation rate over the past few years, statewide there has been an increase.

According to data released by the Michigan Center for Educational performance and information (CEPI), statewide four-year high school graduation rates last spring increased to 76.24 percent, that’s up 1.9 percent from the 2011 rate of 74.33 percent.

The increase is of note because the class of 2011 did see a drop in graduation from 75.95 percent in 2010. The class of 2011 was also the first graduation class to comply with the state’s tougher graduation requirements known as The Michigan Merit Curriculum, adopted in 2006. The data also showed more than 53 percent of Michigan’s school districts saw higher graduation rates, including many of the largest districts.

“This is more positive news for Michigan public schools,” said state SuperintendentMike Flanagan in a press release. “This is reflective of how our teachers and students are succeeding with the rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum and being better prepared to continue Michigan’s economic comeback. We must stay on this positive course and keep our standards high and Michigan Merit Curriculum intact.”

In contrast, Oxford’s graduation rates went from 89.72 percent in 2010 to 87.9 percent in 2011 to 87.05 percent in 2012.

The district’s figures include graduates from Oxford High School, Crossing Bridges High School, Crossroads for Youth and Oxford Virtual Academy.

“Certainly it’s a goal of ours in terms of looking at our graduation rate as a school district (that) we’re always trying to increase that number every year,” said Oxford’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Dr. James Schwarz.

“Getting all kids to where they’re achieving those graduation requirements is often a challenge, particularly (with) your at-risk kids,” he added. “We’re always looking for ways to increase the potential of our at-risk population and provide supports to get those kids to meet those new graduation requirements.”

As for the state, Schwarz said he’s not surprised to see an increase across the board because he believes they are coming up from the “implementation dip” of the new graduation standards that were set in 2006.

“You’re going to have a dip in the rate, dip in the scores, the first time you implement anything of that nature,” he said. As students are getting more accustomed to what the rigor of those requirements are, we’re finding more success in getting them there.”

Superintendent Dr. William Skilling said he doesn’t think graduation rates “are a very good indicator of what’s going on.”

“If we have a student that transfers to another school it affects our graduation rate. I don’t understand what we’re trying to demonstrate with the graduation rate itself,” he said. “I think if you look at dropout rate that’s a better indication of how things are going with the school.”

According to CEPI the state had a dropout rate of 11.07 percent in 2010, 11.13 percent in 2011 and 10.71 percent in 2012.

Oxford’s dropout rate has remained at 5 percent for the past three years.

Skilling also noted that a lot of issues related to education are family-driven and that schools are a reflection of the community and its families.

“I think when you track a student (based on) where he has lived here, grew up here, gone to school here and that kid drops out at 16, that’s something worth tracking,” he said. “You can’t control kids coming and going (to other school districts). I think the more important thing is looking at our kids graduate. Just because they leave your school doesn’t mean they’re not graduating.”