Archived Story

BRHS exceeds state graduation rate goal

Published 6:49pm Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Alexander City Board of Education recently heard an update from Benjamin Russell High School Principal Jose Reyes on the school’s graduation rates.

BRHS is currently ahead of the state’s goal of 72 percent; as for 2011-12 BRHS touted a 78 percent graduation rate.

The discussion came during a talk on the school’s continue improvement plan (CIP).

“One of the key components for our CIP is the graduation rate,” Reyes said. “According to the state, they wanted all schools to graduate at least 72 percent of students for the 2011-12 year. “

The state has a long-term plan in place, Reyes said, that has a variety of benchmarks set along the way. In four years, the state wants all schools to have an 80 percent graduation rate, and then in eight years, this figure notches up to 90 percent.

For the 2012-13 year, the goal is 74 percent. Reyes says the school won’t know these figures until sometime after the first of the year.

“We are looking for the graduation rate to be better,” Reyes said. “We have made strides each year toward increasing this rate, working with the new way it is calculated.”

The state now uses a system known as the four-year cohort model.

“The cohort model says that once a child enters the ninth grade anywhere, they become part of that cohort,” Reyes said. “The 78 percent we are seeing now is for the cohort of students that started in ninth grade in 2008-2009.”

Reyes says that the school has tools it uses to help more students graduate.
One such tool are ACCESS classes, which are online courses offered through the state in which students interact with teachers via a computer.

“We also have credit recovery classes for a child that has failed a course or in instances where a child has gotten behind for some reason,” Reyes said. “We can offer them a PLATO course. Basically they can take this course and finish it in a quicker manner than they would in the normal setting so they can catch up.”

Reyes said that there are some challenges the system faces when it comes to graduation rates.

“We sometimes will have a young man or lady that moves to our system from another district that has been in that district their entire life,” Reyes said. “They will transfer into our system, stay one month and drop out. We had little time with that child to help turn them around. The thing that is hard for us is that doesn’t count against the system they came from – it counts against us.”

Still, the school is confident it will reach the state’s mandate of a 90 percent graduation rate.

“Right now we are 12 percent away from that goal,” Reyes said. “Hopefully we will reach it way before 2020.”