Local grad rates exceed state average

MADISON COUNTY — The Indiana Department of Education released 2017 state graduation rates, and both Pendleton Heights High School and Lapel High School are well above the state average rate.

In 2017, Indiana’s graduation rate across the state was 87.19 percent, a decrease from the 2016 mark of 89.07 percent.

At Lapel High School, all 111 seniors graduated to earn the school a 100 percent graduation rate.

Pendlton Heights High School’s rate was 92.73 percent, with 306 of 330 students graduating from the 2017 class.

The 92.7 percent mark for Pendleton Heights was the same in 2016, while the 100 percent rate for Lapel was an increase from the 2016 mark of 95.7 percent.

Chad Kemerly, Lapel High School principal, said school leaders were very excited with the accomplishment.

“We are always close and reach it occasionally, but our goal is always 100 percent,” Kemerly said.

The Class of 2017 at Lapel was a strong class and worked to be successful in all areas, Kemerly said. He said the class has left a strong legacy with the accomplishment.

Two of the biggest indicators of success with a graduating class is the graduation rate and college and career readiness, Kemerly said. Over the years, Lapel students have been highly successful in both areas and continue to strive to do so, he said.

School leaders are making improvements in class and vocational offerings to ensure students are prepared for their choice in college and careers, keeping them on track to graduate in a pathway of their interest.

Pendleton Heights High School would love to have a 100 percent graduation rate, but it’s just not possible because the school has students who, for various reasons, are on a non-diploma track, Principal Mark Hall said.

“The best that we could have possibly gotten would have been 98.8, if everyone on a graduation path would have met graduation requirements in four years,” he said.

Still, it’s important to push for a high graduation rate, Hall said, and the district has a good way to track students. It uses a database run by the IDOE showing the status of students from the time they enter ninth grade.

“For the most part, I can see who graduated and who did not and why,” Hall said.

To earn full credit on the state’s yearly school report card, a school must have a 90 percent graduation rate, and Pendleton Heights has met the standard, Hall said.

Hall said he feels the school grade is a more comprehensive measure of how well a school is performing because it is based on student performance on standardized tests, college and career readiness, and the graduation rate.

“Focusing only on a school’s graduation rate doesn’t give a complete picture of the overall performance of any school,” Hall said. “It is just one source of data that we use to continually improve.”

Since 2006, Indiana has increased its graduation rate by nearly 10 percentage points, according to the state graduation report.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.