Graduation rates and district solutions – Part 3

In a report from the New York State Department of Education, the William Floyd School District earned an 84 percent graduation rate for June 2018 and 86 percent for August. The following discussion between superintendent Kevin Coster and assistant superintendent for secondary education Kathleen Keane addresses what the score means and initiatives for student success in the district.

What the score means

“We’re very proud of our graduation rate, as over the past 12 years it’s been steadily increasing,” Keane told the Advance.

The score, as explained by the administrators, encompasses many factors, including high school students, BOCES, special education programs, and other non-district placements, and is all compiled into the four-year cohort. The rate has increased substantially, as in 2007 it was 62 percent. The rate is often influenced by outside programs, of which the district has no influence, Coster said.

Coster said the effort is always to get students across the graduation stage on time, and having been successful while in school. He added that it is a full-scale effort, from each elementary and middle school through high school, and involves teachers, assistants, coaches, administrators and more.

Individualized help and special programs

Some programs at William Floyd are designed to give students a more individualized learning experience. Coster said each year he encourages teachers to find at least one student who could use some extra assistance and help them cross the finish line, and put extra focus on students in need.

The high school also has Regents help sessions to prepare students for the high-stakes exams.

Intervening early

Coster and Keane said one of the most important things is to intervene early when students are struggling, which usually happens before high school. The district is proposing new programs in the middle schools starting in the upcoming year, which are partially aimed at increasing the graduation rate. The program is also designed to give students more opportunity for learning before high school, so they can enter with Regents credits. Teachers and guidance counselors are also encouraged to intervene when students are struggling.

Changes at middle school

Recent proposed changes at the middle school level are also aimed at increasing the graduation rate, including improvements to elective selection and preparation for high school courses. Students are also being returned to a nine-period day, should the budget pass in May, which would extend the amount of schooling by 15 minutes and give an extra help period at the end of the day.

“I’m real proud of what we’re doing here at William Floyd and the numbers are showing that we’re improving,” Coster said.

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