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Columbus’ graduation rate continues to climb


Kristin Mamrack



School officials are working to further improve the numbers, but recently released data shows the Columbus Municipal School District ahead of regional competitors, with lower dropout rates and better completion and graduation rates. 


The state recently released four-year dropout, completion and graduation rates of students, beginning with ninth-graders in 2004 and 2005. 


According to the data released, the Columbus Municipal School District had a 14.5 percent four-year dropout rate, a four-year completion rate of 80.3 percent and a four-year graduation rate of 79 percent. 


Completion rates refer to students who completed a course of study, but might not have received a regular diploma. 


Graduation rates refer to students who completed all the requirements established by both the state and local school board. 


Officials want the completion rates and graduation rates to be relatively close; a large disparity between the numbers could mean students are completing the courses, but not passing state-required exams or local school board requirements, said CMSD Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips. 


"We were excited to see our graduation rate increase and completion rate increase dramatically over the previous two years, but we are not satisfied," Phillips said. "We must continue to develop avenues to keep students engaged in school and the learning process to give them the highest possibility of success in life. A key component of that success is to be a high school graduate. 


"I believe the increase in both the graduation rate and completion rate means that we are trying specific strategies with children that work," he continued. "It also means our staff throughout the system is focused on students graduating from high school and being successful in life." 


Phillips noted "several strategies" in working with students. 


"Many of these strategies are used in other districts throughout the state, as well," he said. "Our activities for eighth-graders that help them transition to the high school, our credit recovery and our Freshman Academy programs all have an impact on engaging students and providing avenues for support to stay in school and succeed. We believe these programs, over time, will continue to have an impact on our students." 


According to the data released, the Lowndes County School District had a dropout rate of 18.3 percent, a completion rate of 78.3 percent and a graduation rate of 72.7. 


The West Point School District had a dropout rate of 18.3 percent, a completion rate of 76.5 percent and a graduation rate of 66 percent. 


The Starkville School District had a dropout rate of 26 percent, a completion rate of 65.9 percent and a graduation rate of 57.4 percent.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Columbus Parent commented at 4/7/2009 12:23:00 PM:

Congratulations to CMSD! It's wonderful to see our Columbus Public Schools improving so rapidly under our new leadership. Whether it's instituting one of the first IB programs in the state, launching the inovative and exciting magnet programs, or addressing the educational needs of lower performing students, CMSD has truly become the educational leader in our region. Well done!


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