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January 29, 2014
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Garfield County high school graduation rates exceed Colorado average

High school graduation rates in two of Garfield County’s three primary school districts exceeded the state average in 2013, according to recent new data from the Colorado Department of Education.

The Garfield Re-2 School District, which includes public schools in New Castle, Silt and Rifle, had a overall on-time graduation rate last year of 79.3 percent, according to the latest CDE figures.

That’s better than the statewide graduation rate of 76.9 percent for the 2012-13 school year, and represents an increase over the previous year’s Re-2 graduation rate of 64.4 percent.

It’s also slightly better than the graduation rate of 78.6 percent for the four high schools combined in the neighboring Roaring Fork Re-1 School District.

The graduation rate for Re-1 high schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, decreased compared to last year’s rate of 84.2 percent, according to the 2013 statistics

The on-time graduation rate measured the number of students who graduated in the traditional four-year period after starting as freshmen in the fall of 2009.

“It is promising that we remain slightly above the state’s graduation rate, but we are still losing too many students, especially among our Hispanic male and economically disadvantaged student population,” said Rob Stein, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer for Roaring Fork Re-1.

The CDE report also included those students who took five or six years to complete high school, as well as the latest drop-out rates for individual schools and districts in the state.

“The good thing about the four-year, on-time graduation rate is that is what we conventionally want to see happen,” Stein said. “But if it takes a kid a year longer to learn what they need to know and to graduate, we consider that a success.”

The five-year graduation rate for Roaring Fork Re-1, tracking students who started high school in 2008 and graduates last year, was 89.2 percent.

At the individual school level, “we had some promising upticks, as well as some concerning downticks,” he said.

Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale had the highest on-time graduation rate of all Garfield County high schools last year, at 88.7 percent.

Glenwood Springs High School had a graduation rate of 82 percent, and the alternative Bridges High School in Carbondale graduated 38.7 percent of its students who started as freshmen four years previous.

Basalt High School, which is part of Roaring Fork Re-1 but is located in Pitkin County, had a graduation rate of 77.5 percent.

Grand Valley High School, the only high school in the Parachute/Battlement Mesa area’s Garfield District 16, had a graduation rate of 73 percent, according to the latest statistics from the state.

Garfield Re-2 officials point out that the overall graduation rate for their district included 16 students who started four years ago in the Kaplan Academy online school, but didn’t graduate because the program was ended two years ago.

Taking the district’s “brick-and-mortar” high schools by themselves, Rifle High School had a graduation rate last year of 84.4 percent, while Coal Ridge High had a graduation rate of 83.5 percent.

“We want every child to graduate and be ready for college and careers,” Re-2 Superintendent Susan Birdsey said in a news release after the state data was released last week.

“We still have to work to raise the bar,” she said. “However, the staffs at Coal Ridge, Rifle High School and our middle schools are working hard to provide individualized instruction, set high goals, and high expectations for our students.”

Birdsey said the improved graduation rate is also a testament to the staff’s dedication as Re-2 moved to the four-day school week for the 2012-13 school year as a result of budget cuts.

“The four-day school week created a sense of urgency around maximizing student contact time, and insuring that instruction was centered around the academic standards,” she said. “Our academic achievement data is moving in the right direction.”

Colorado’s drop out rate as of the 2012-13 school year was 2.5 percent, down compared to the previous two years. The state’s dropout rate hit 3 percent in 2010-11.

Locally, the dropout rate for Roaring Fork Re-1 was 1.8 percent last year, compared to 2.1 percent the previous year.

Garfield Re-2’s dropout rate fell to 1.1 percent last year from 3.5 percent the previous year and 5.2 percent in 2010-11.

And, the dropout rate for District 16 fell to 2.8 percent from 3.8 percent the previous year, according to the statistics released by the state last week.


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 30, 2014 12:40PM Published Jan 29, 2014 08:36PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.