Meridian, Miss. Early projections are that the graduation rate for Meridian High will significantly increase this year.
Last year Meridian High had a 61.7% graduation rate. Early projections are that this year that number will jump by almost 10%.
"We're anticipating it jumping anywhere from 68% to 70% or even more," says MPSD Superintendent, Dr. Alvin Taylor.
Dr. Taylor says the change is the result of a lot of hard work that has been done by students, district officials and community leaders.
"We've created a Drop Out Prevention Team. It's comprised of administrators and counselors at the high school along with central office administrators. We also have a lot of community leaders on the Drop Out Prevention Team. We do a lot of mentoring and tutoring, and we put a big, strong emphasis on the ACT."
Doctor Taylor says this year the state changed one graduation requirement that is also helping. It allows students who fail the required subject area graduation exams to still get a diploma if they score at least a 17 on that same subject area on the ACT test.
"So far, we have at least ten students who will graduate based on their ACT scores."
Started almost three years ago, administrators say that dividing Meridian High into small learning communities has also helped to improve the high school's graduation rate. That's because they say the students are able to do some core subject work in a way which they enjoy.
Dr. Taylor stresses that it's important to remember that the state determines a school's graduation rate by monitoring students from 9th through 12th grades.
"That is over a four year period, and this administration has been here three years. So, the longer we stay here the more impact we have on the graduation rate."