Graduation Rate Increase

The graduation rate for Lauderdale County Schools was up last year from the previous year. The jump was from 70.7% to 71.9%. District officials credit a number of factors for the increase.

'We have credit recovery. We also have some other programs that some of the high school students use," says Ryan Powell, who is the 5th through 12th Grade Curriculum Director for the Lauderdale County School District. Powell says changes are being implemented in hopes of increasing the graduation rate even more.

"In fact, we have several different things that we're trying to do," Powell said. "For example, the students who are having trouble with passing the subject area tests, we're trying to re-mediate them with the Mississippi Department of Education."

The graduation rate increase is welcomed news, especially since it had fallen from 80.1% in 2008 to just over 70% in 2010. Powell says there are a number of factors which likely caused the drop.

Unlike most school systems, the Lauderdale County School District has a set of schools with a large number of transient students. This is the case at Northeast Elementary, Northeast Middle and Northeast High School. Many of the students who attend those schools are part of military families. In recent years the district has started making even more strides to track those students after they leave.

"So, if a student comes in and withdraws and goes to another school, we have to track that and we have that documented in our paperwork to show that these students have left our school because if we don't they'll be counted as dropouts," says Powell.

Looking to the future, Powell says the district's strategy to increase the graduation rate is far reaching.

"Graduation starts in kindergarten. We have to look at it as a K-12 issue, not just a 9-12 issue," Powell said.

The Lauderdale County School District is currently the largest in east Mississippi with 6,762 students and four high schools.