Most Clark County high schools improved graduation rates last year

Graduation rates at the 56 schools in Clark County generally improved in the 2016-17 school year, with Laughlin Junior/Senior High School leading the charge by achieving a 100 percent graduation rate, according to state data released Thursday.

The improvement by the school in the southeast corner of Clark County, saw its graduation rate rise from 76 percent to a perfect score, which also was the largest percentage point increase in the county.

Other Clark County schools that significantly increased their graduation rate over the previous year included:

— Del Sol High School in Las Vegas: up 28 percent, from 71 percent to 91 percent.

— Mojave High School in Las Vegas: up 27 percent, from 67 percent to 85 percent.

— Sunrise Mountain High School in Las Vegas: up 21 percent, from 76 percent to 92 percent.

— Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas: up 21 percent, from 75 percent to 91 percent.

— Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas: up 18 percent, from 78 percent to 92 percent.

Official star ratings

The graduation rates were part of a data release by the state Department of Education Thursday. The state had previously released graduation rates by district. The state graduation rate is 81 percent. As a county, Clark graduated 83 percent of students in 2017.

In addition to graduation rates, the state released star ratings for elementary and middle school, which closely mirrored the ratings previously calculated and published by the Review-Journal. The state is not issuing star ratings for high schools this year, as they are still working out the best measures to use to rate high schools.

This year’s ratings have been highly anticipated, since the state has not issued them since 2014. An issue with testing data, a big component of the rankings, forced a three-year hiatus.

Since then, the state has also raised the bar, making it harder for schools to rank in the top category in the five-tier ratings.

“This is our starting line,” said State Superintendent Steve Canavero.

Mike Barton, Clark County’s chief academic officer, said the data is welcome news.

“We’ve had a void in the data for a couple of years now,” he said. “We embrace the data, we now know what we need to improve on.”

Graduation rates

Laughlin was not the only high school to earn a 100 percent graduation rate this year. Other schools that graduated all their students include the east, south and west campuses of the College of Southern Nevada high schools, Veterans Career and Technical Academy, A-Tech, Southwest Career and Technical Academy and Northwest Career and Technical Academy.

Only one traditional high school, Sandy Valley Junior/Senior High School, saw a drop in its graduation rate. In 2016, 100 percent of the students graduated. In 2017, that declined to 89 percent.

In a small, rural school, such as Sandy Valley, “If one student doesn’t graduate that does obviously make a dramatic difference in the graduation rate,” Barton noted.

Burk Horizon Southwest High School, a credit-recovery high school for at-risk students, also saw a drop in its graduation rate, from 49 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in 2017, a 14 percent drop.

The district also made significant gains in the graduation rate of black students, one of the lowest graduating groups in the district. In 2016, 60 percent of black students graduated. That rose 22 percent, to 73 percent in 2017.

“I think that the (school) sites have made that a focus probably in the last couple of years. With that focus we’ve seen these strong results,” Barton said.

Despite the improvement, African-American students remain one of the lowest-graduating cohorts in the district, so the focus will continue.

Barton said principals may make “mid-course corrections” now that this data is out, in an effort to keep the rate moving up for the next class of graduates.

“They may change some Saturday programs or after-school tutoring. It may intensify,” he said. “I think our principals are really good at that, they’re strategic.”

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

Rising graduation rates by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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