March 1, 2013

LHS grad rate climbs by more than 7 percent

Most schools hit or exceed 90 percent mark; Lewis Cass rate falls

by Sarah Einselen

— Most local schools increased their graduation rates last year, according to preliminary data posted on the Indiana Department of Education’s website Thursday.

Logansport High School graduated 91.1 percent in the 2011-2012 school year, more than 7 percentage points above its graduation rate the previous year. The statewide average was 88.1 percent.

It’s likely a result of “better focus on what we’re doing at the high school and how we’re servicing our kids,” said Michele Starkey, superintendent of Logansport Community School Corporation. “It’s been a team effort by a lot of people.”

Changes at The Academy, the school’s alternative program, as well as provision for multiple remedial opportunities have helped students graduate on time more, she added.

Lewis Cass Junior-Senior High School had a graduation rate of 70.5 percent, significantly lower than its 85.8 percent rate at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

“That cohort of students was a struggle for us,” said principal Mark Karmel. “That was the group of kids that historically, when they went through school, they performed lower on ISTEP” and other measures.

The junior-senior high was on probation one year after the same cohort completed 10th grade end-of-course assessments, Karmel said, and left probation the next year.

Karmel also suggested that about 20 students out of the 132 counted in the school’s graduation rate were expelled or transferred to another school before their senior year. Of the remaining 112 that were enrolled as seniors in the 2011-2012 school year, according to school records, 93 graduated, three have returned to finish some classes and at least three are pursuing a General Educational Development diploma.

“A lot of those kids we’re kind of getting dinged on did not finish four years here,” Karmel said. “They were an underperforming class, but they shouldn’t have underperformed that much.”

Pioneer Junior-Senior High School’s graduation rate was 91.6 percent. Superintendent Dave Bess said it represented a more accurate calculation than the previous year’s rate of 84.8 percent.

“We’re happy, but we’re not satisfied,” said Bess. “We’ll be working to try to improve it. We’d like to have every kid graduating on time.”

At Caston Junior-Senior High School, principal Adam Strasser said staff were “really happy” with the school’s 90 percent graduation rate, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the school’s 2010-2011 graduation rate, 80.7 percent.

“The goal is always to have 100 percent, and we’re getting closer and closer to that,” Strasser said.

In Carroll County, Carroll Junior-Senior High School had a graduation rate of 95.9 percent and Delphi Community High School graduated students at a rate of 95.2 percent.

Delphi principal Kyle Trebley credited the school’s rate to ongoing interventions and “great teaching.” During the 2011-2012 school year, he said, more small, individualized instruction was implemented for students needing remediation.

“Whatever it takes is our motto here to get them the extra help they need,” Trebley said.

Carroll administrators could not be reached for comment.

Winamac Community High School’s graduation rate was 90.9 percent.

“We have 5 percent still in school,” said superintendent Robert Klitzman, “in other words, they didn’t graduate, but they didn’t drop out. If those 5 percent graduate, it’s a wonderful score.” Those students are on track to graduate this spring, he said.

He added that “four years is not the only way to graduate.”

“It’s a system thing,” said Klitzman. “Nonetheless I don’t think 91 percent is anything to shy away from.”

School administrators said the state Department of Education had not notified them in advance of releasing graduation statistics. The IDOE typically sends letters about a week ahead of releasing the data, they said.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at or 574-732-5151.

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