The Vicksburg Warren School District’s 2019-20 4-year graduation rate, made official yesterday by the Mississippi Department of Education’s Board of Directors, is the highest ever reported by the District at 86.9 percent, surpassing the last posted national average 4-year graduation rate (85 percent) for the first time. The 4-year graduation rate climbed 6.21 percentage points from the 2018-19 rate of 80.69 and 14.72 percentage points since 2017-18 rate. Since the 2009-2010 school year, VWSD’s graduation rate has increased 35.2 percentage points. Over the same time period, the state’s average graduation rate increased only 13.6 percentage points. VWSD is rapidly closing the gap. (see graph below)
This accomplishment exceeds the school board’s original strategic goal of increasing the graduation rate by 20 percentile points. “We are celebrating the hard work of our students, families, board members, teachers and staff today.” said Superintendent Chad Shealy. “By helping students connect with an exit strategy – enrolled, enlisted, entrepreneur or employed with meaningful credentials, we are engaging them in relevant learning and building strong student/teacher relationships. We know these are the things that impact efficacy and increase our graduation rate. It is also the best thing to do for our students’ long-term success.”
Both of the District’s High Schools showed meaningful increases in their 4-year graduation rates with Vicksburg High School achieving an 88 percent graduation rate which bests both the national average rate and Mississippi’s average graduation rate of 87.7 percent and Warren Central High School jumping to an 86.28 percent rate – 1.28 percentage points above the national average. River City Early College High School reported a 100 percent graduation rate for their Class of 2020 seniors. Students who graduate from RCECHS are officially counted at their zoned high school. Current year (2021) graduation rates are predicted to be even higher.
The 4-year graduation rate is a major factor in the Mississippi Department of Education’s accountability model, accounting for up to 200 of the 1000 possible points. MDE’s changes to the accountability model over the years, such as not including special education students or students who graduate in more than four years, has made it even more challenging to increase the graduation rate.
“If these students were counted, our graduation rate would be even higher, somewhere around 89 percent. The data tells us that what we are doing is working. We will keep expanding the programs that are in place and continue to focus on providing our students a jump-start to their future,” Shealy said. “Our vision is to graduate all – and all means all – students college, career and life prepared. We will keep pushing to accomplish this for the betterment of our students and the community.”
The 2019-20 graduation rate of 86.9 percent will be included in the calculation of the 2021-22 accountability score.