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Graduation rates spike in the Osceola County School District

Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Melinn Lanier
For the News-Gazette
Graduation rates in Osceola County have spiked after a focus on attendance, discipline and credit recovery, School District officials said.
The graduation rate in Osceola County has increased from 82 percent to more than 86 percent, exceeding the statewide rate of 82.3 percent, according to the Florida Department of Education.
In regards to graduation rates, Osceola County now ranks the third highest among counties in Central Florida, and 15 out of 67 counties in the state.
“This success can be partially credited with the district’s focus on student attendance and discipline,” said District Superintendent Debra Pace. “The district is striving to increase attendance and reduce suspensions.”
Another district focus is credit recovery.
District officials are working to aid students in credit recovery status by getting them the support they need to graduate. In the first semester of the 2017-18 school year, more than 200 additional credits were already earned in credit recovery labs.
The district has also invested its time in preparing students for college by introducing them to preliminary standardized tests for college admission as early as ninth grade, and giving them opportunities to take the standardized tests in 11th and 12th grade, officials said.
“The district’s college-going rate has significantly increased from 41 percent to 48.6 percent between 2010 and 2015,” Pace said. “We’re also seeing more students earning acceptances into top tier universities.”
College preparation has not only helped students familiarize themselves with college material, but it has also helped them meet the state’s assessment criteria for a high school diploma.
Along with this, the district is providing more career oriented and higher-level classes to students so they not only find a calling in high school but also a plan for the future.
A future that makes going to college, joining the military or entering the workforce realistic.
Among the high schools, the highest graduation rates are currently coming from PATHS at TECO with a rate of 100 percent and St. Cloud with a rate of
92.8 percent.
“We were very happy to once again achieve a 100 percent graduation rate,” said Paula Evans, who is the principal at PATHS at TECO. “It is our goal to ensure that all students at PATHS are successful.”
For St. Cloud, the motto “failure is not an option” is taken to a higher level, according to Principal Nathaniel Fancher.
Although graduation is seen as a high school success, it is an effort that starts in pre-kindergarten. An effort that the district monitors, officials said.
“As long as the district continues to monitor and support schools in improving outcomes for students, the graduation rate for Osceola County can improve,” Pace said.
As schools across Osceola County band together in the effort of helping students graduate, it has strengthened the possibility of a successful life for students.
“Graduation is the first step in their journey toward a successful future,” Pace said.