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County schools continue work toward graduation goals


All three LaGrange County public school districts were at or above the state’s average graduation rate, but all three are eager to continue to see those numbers rise.

Indiana’s high school graduation rate averaged 85.7 percent.

WestviewSchoolled the county with its high school graduation rate of 88.8 percent for 2011, according to numbers released and published last week in the LaGrange Standard and LaGrange News.

At the Westview School Board meeting last Thursday, Superintendent Randy Zimmerly noted that the difference between the school’s rate and the state’s goal of 90 percent was “one student.

Westview’s Director of Curriculum Robert Evans also noted an increase in average class size at Westview Elementary, which was at 24 for 2010-2011. The increase was due to a “bubble” of high numbers of fifth and sixth grade students going through the building.

PrairieHeights had the second highest graduation rate for LaGrange County, improving to 86.1 percent, up from 85.7 the year before. “It’s still moving in the right direction,” noted Superintendent Alan Middleton. He added that the school is expecting to see more gains in its graduation rate with some of the strategies the district has put into place recently.

However, he pointed out, “We’re working on a 13-year process.” The district will continue to “focus on what we do and what we need to do and use this data to make corrections,” Middleton stated. Overall, he added, he was pleased with the numbers for 2011-2012.

At first, Lakeland High School seemed to have dropped by nearly 12 percent from 2010 to 2011. However, as Lakeland Superintendent Risa Herber pointed out, the state did not remove eight foreign exchange students from their count for graduates.  Without the exchange students in the count, the district graduated 81 percent of the class in 2011. “That’s still not where we want to be,” Herber said.

The school was pleased that seven students that did not graduate in 2011 have stayed in school as fifth year students to complete their education. With the differences of the exchange students and the seven students who are remaining in school, Lakeland’s graduation rate comes in at around 85 percent.

“We want to be above 90 percent,” Herber stated. The district has put into effect additional counseling and grade checks for students, as well as continued teacher training. “We expect the rate to go up exponentially,” Herber added. The Class of 2011 had none of the benefits of the additional training or counseling, she noted, whereas every class from this point on will.

As part of its changes in curriculum at the high school, Lakeland is also “front loading” students’ credits their freshmen and sophomore years. That puts less stress on students for their junior and senior years to earn enough credits, something the school district expects will help keep more students in school through the end of their senior year.