By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Despite a district-wide focus on increasing the graduation rate at Brookings-Harbor High School (BHHS), the official graduation rate for the class of 2018 dropped 3 percent from 77 percent (2017) to 74 percent.

The drop placed BHHS below the statewide average of 78.68 for this year.

Last year, the school topped the state average for the first time in at least seven years.

The four-year graduation rate is the percentage of students in a class, adjusted for transfers into and out of the school, who earn a regular or modified diploma within four years of entering high school.

At the back-to-school breakfast this year, Superintendent Sean Gallagher labeled an increasing graduation rate as one of the district’s key goals and said graduation was the key to everything.

Gallagher earlier said a culture wherein everyone expects to graduate generates success across all academic disciplines.

“The district is also motivating students with high graduation rates and dual enrollment courses,” he said in relation to student scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

Math scores on the Smarter Balanced Tests from last year worsened at BHHS while science scores posted an upturn. English and language arts scores remained roughly the same, and BHHS students scored below state averages in all subjects.

“Although the school’s internal data indicated that the district was likely to see a rise in this year’s graduation rate as reported in recent presentations, the final graduation data released by the state is adjusted for students moving in or out of the district,” a district press release said, “and that is difficult to track at the school level. High student mobility rates in our region contributed to the surprise factor in the data.”

According to BHHS Principal Lisa Dion, the school district has made strides in the past four-and-a-half years toward establishing a graduation culture that starts in elementary school, keeps students on-track along the way in middle school and focuses on immediate interventions for at-risk students in high school.

At the January school board meeting, Dion said the graduation rates were a clear success for the district and the high school, noting the on-time graduation had risen from 61 percent to 77 percent over the previous five years.

However, she also said this year’s rate – which dropped to 74 percent – was expected to better the 77 percent rate.

Brookings-Harbor School District Public Information Officer Nancy Raskauskas-Coons said the state labeled 10 students as dropouts and said of an additional group of students referenced by the state as transfers, at least 10 were seniors who entered and left BHHS during the school year.

Both the local data and the state’s official numbers show a significant proportion of students who transferred in and out, according to Raskauskas-Coons, and that contributed to the mobility issues challenging the district in regard to graduation.

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