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CCSD graduation rate declines slightly

The Clark County School District’s graduation rates for the second year continue to hover around 71 percent, with 16,604 students receiving diplomas in 2014.

The 70.9 percent graduation rate was lower than the 2013 high of 71.5 percent, when 16,194 students graduated.

Still both years showed a significant increase from 2012 and 2011, when graduation rates were 62 percent and 59 percent, respectively.

District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky has set a goal of an 82 percent graduation rate for the class of 2019.

“Last year, the class of 2013’s graduation rate increased by 9.9 percentage points — a huge jump for the Clark County School District,” the super­intendent said. “We hoped to sustain that gain with the Class of 2014 even as we work with the state to better track and be held accountable for the success of our adult education students.”

The impressive 10-percentage-point improvement reported for 2013 came with a disclaimer. The majority of the increase was due to the district correcting errors in how it tracks students.

Skorkowsky changed how the district tracked departing students last year, including finding out whether they have transferred to another school instead of simply labeling them as dropouts, as was done in the past. In addition, the state corrected a flaw in the graduation rate calculation that allowed districts to omit from the count struggling students who transferred into adult education.

Skorkowsky said one change that has helped increase graduation rates are data tracking tools used to help educators follow students and identify those who need support before they drop out.

Of the 57 high schools in the district, 10 saw their 2014 graduation rates increase by 10 percentage points or more, including Sunrise Mountain High School.

The high school located in the east valley, south of Nellis Air Force Base, had a 61 percent graduation rate in 2014, an increase of about 13 percentage points from 2013 when it was 47.9 percent.

Some 364 students graduated from the school in 2014, 230 dropped out and 83 transferred. In 2013, 333 students graduated, 362 dropped out and 82 transferred.

Sunrise Mountain principal Grant Hanevold attributed the school’s turnaround to his staff focusing on behavioral problems among students, mentoring students and setting high expectations.

“Kids are constantly supervised. And above all, we showed respect. I don’t engage in a conversation with a student without shaking their hand,” Hanevold said.

Contact Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Follow @fjmccabe on Twitter.

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