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KPBSD's graduation, dropout rates on par with districts statewide

Posted: May 28, 2012 - 8:06pm

For the state of Alaska, calculating graduation rates is not a simple task. However, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s graduation rate for the 2010-11 school year is very close to other comparable districts in the state.

In Alaska, the graduation rate does not necessarily equate to how many students graduated out of how many students were enrolled in high school.

“It’s the percentage of ninth graders who graduate four years later,” explained Eric Fry, information officer for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. “Excluded from this calculation are any students who transfer out of the (school or district) and in to another entity with a diploma track, or who move out of the country, or die.”

For the 2010-11 school year, the KPBSD’s graduation rate was 73 percent, according to a Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Adequate Yearly Progress worksheet published in December of 2011. By comparison, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District had a graduation rate of 70 percent for the same time frame and the Anchorage School District had a graduation rate of 72 percent, according to the data. The calculations for the 2011-12 school year graduation rate will not be available until at least July, when all of the data can be compiled.

Out of the four comparable districts, Anchorage, Mat-Su, KPBSD and Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, the latter had the highest graduation rate for 2010-11 with 76 percent, the data showed.

With KPBSD’s graduation rate of 73 percent, the dropout rate for 2010-11 school year was 3 percent, or 133 students, according to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Last year’s rate of 3 percent is an indicator that the district is retaining students who are in danger of falling behind, KPBSD Superintendent Steve Atwater said. 

“We’re pleased (the dropout rate) is dropping,” Atwater said. “It shows our interventionist strategies are working, we’re spending more time working with kids individually once they fall behind.”

Atwater said there are programs in place to curb the number of students who are on the verge of dropping out.

“I think the big thing is to continue to differentiate our instruction so students can be met where they are,” Atwater said. 

“I think kids drop out because they’re bored or think it’s irrelevant,” he said. “So we’re trying to make kids feel engaged with the schooling process. I think that’s a big step, we’re making a bigger effort to make sure that’s the case.”

Since the 1990-91 school year, the highest drop-out rate for the district was took place during the 1993-94 school year where the district experienced a 5.8 percent dropout rate, or 246 students. 

For the 2009-10 school year, the district experienced a 4.5 percent dropout rate, or 215 students. For the two years that followed, that number stayed about the same, with a 4.4 percent dropout rate in 2008-09 and a 4.5 percent in 2009-10. 

Compared to other districts around the state, the KPBSD dropout rate is fairly low, according to the data. In the Mat-Su, the dropout rate in 2008-09 was 5.1 percent, or 403 students, followed by 5.2 percent, or 409 students the next year and in 2010-11 it decreased to 3.3 percent, or 262 students. 

Comparisons to the other large districts across the state also include enrollment. In that area, the Kenai Peninsula is below Anchorage, Fairbanks and Mat-Su, according to district enrollment count on Oct. 1, 2011 and revised Feb. 24 of this year by the Department of Education. According to the data, KPBSD’s enrollment was 9,050 for K-12, while Fairbanks’ enrollment was 14,190 during the same count. Anchorage and Mat-Su enrollments were higher, the data showed, at 48,341 and 17,268 respectively.

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