Some Local School Districts Below National Graduation Rate: JHS Adds Transition Intervention Program

Some Local School Districts Below National Graduation Rate: JHS Adds Transition Intervention Program

High school graduation rates are going up nationally but some local districts aren’t keeping pace.

T he new national graduation rate is eighty-three point two percent.
While some area districts have higher rates, Joplin’s is just below at eighty-two point-four percent.In Pittsburg, it’s seventy-seven percent. And in Miami, Oklahoma it’s seventy-eight percent.
District says there’s a common challenge and Joplin is adding programs to help students earn their diplomas.

Tuesday is intervention day during Transitions at Joplin high. A period similar to what was known as homeroom in the past. It’s a new program in which students check their own grades to see where they need improvement and some can get extra help from teachers.

Counselor Marda Schroeder explained, “They (teachers) can request those students come back to work to either make up assignments, maybe retake a tests, work on a particular problem they’re having difficulty with.”

Schroeder says there’s tutoring before and after school and credit recovery programs here at the high school’ s main campus. Those who fall farther behind go off campus for the flex program or Mo options.

David Armstrong with the Flex Program explained that Mo Options is “The high school equivalency exams plus a few extra courses that equals a high school graduation.” Besides the Hiset Exam, students in MO Options take government, personal finance and several electives.

The flex program, designed for students who must work and come to school part time, is project based and competency driven so students are given a list of objectives to complete rather than being based on seat time.

Armstrong said, “They have to complete to show mastery for a course and when they complete those, they’re issued credit.”

S tudents become part of a class cohort when they enter high school in the 9th grade. The graduation rate is based on that groups 4 years progress. The problem comes when they don’ t stay.

Joplin high principal Brandon Eggleston said, “The biggest challenge is transiency and kids moving. That’s a challenge. That’s a challenge for all districts to keep up with.”

Those students are a districts responsibility until they enroll elsewhere and are considered a drop out if they don’t.. Something Pittsburg’s superintendent says is to blame for its low seventy-seven percent graduation rate.

Schroeder says transiency can lead to failure. “A lot students transfer in and out and that can make it difficult to earn credit. They get behind. They start feeling, ‘why bother, why try.’ We have to try to instill that sense of hope into the kiddos.”

Principals and counselors say a key to keeping kids in school is getting them plugged into an activity.
Eggleston said, “Engaged in school. To have a connection. They’re involved in other things besides just coming to school and going home.”

And Eggleston says it’s not all about graduation rates, but making sure students earn the diploma.
He said, “Getting the skills they need to be college career ready.”

And Schroeder says schools simply need to differentiate helping students because they all have different needs.

Armstrong says he has about sixty students in the flex program and another twenty five in MO Options who if successful represent seven to ten percent of a class graduation rate.