NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 30, 2013

Triton's graduation rate improves; dropout rate declines

By Michelle Pelletier Marshall
Correspondent

---- — BYFIELD — The four-year graduation rate for 2012 was up at Triton Regional High School, and for the first time has reached over 90 percent, according to data published last week by the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education.

Triton Superintendent Christopher Farmer said that this achievement was one of the goals of the District Improvement Plan. “While much credit goes to our high school faculty, it is important to remember that graduation is the culmination of 13 years of public school,” said Farmer in a district-wide email to parents.

“Our elementary and middle school teachers lay the foundation upon which the high school can build. Everyone in the district has reason to feel great satisfaction, while at the same time recognizing that we still have more to do.”

The data released by the DESE showed a state-wide improvement in the high school four-year graduation rate to 84.7 percent. This is the sixth consecutive year that improvements have been made, and this year, gains made by African American, Hispanic and high needs students outpaced other student groups.

At Triton, the graduation rate in 2012 increased to 90.2 percent from 86.4 percent, up 3.9 percent as compared with the previous five-year average of 86.3 percent. At Triton, there was particularly strong improvement among students from low-income families (up from 63.9 percent to 70.7 percent) and students with disabilities (up from 70.8 percent to 87 percent).

The graduation rates for Triton Regional High School for the past seven years are: 2012, 90.2 percent; 2011, 86.4 percent; 2010, 89.7 percent; 2009, 86.8 percent; 2008, 83.7 percent; 2007, 84.7 percent; 2006, 84.8 percent.

In addressing this 2012 achievement, Farmer noted that there’s rarely one single explanation for improvements and that some graduating classes are simply better equipped to succeed than others. He did point to several initiatives within the district that are certainly contributors to greater success among its student population, such as:

district and school leadership setting higher expectations;

a greater emphasis on engaging elective classes;

the now well-established “Guidance Seminar,” which is taught by guidance counselors and helps students to understand that they have choices;

additional structured support for struggling students through an Academic Support class;

the commitment of all faculty to helping students succeed through the development of strong supportive relationships; and

a growing appreciation among students that in the current economy they need

to graduate to be a successful member of the workforce.

Dropout rate

The DESE report also announced that the annual dropout rate in the state fell to 2.5 percent, the lowest rate in decades. The state’s annual dropout rate declined to 2.5 percent in 2011-12, the fourth consecutive year below 3 percent and lowest overall rate in decades.

Last year’s improvement in the state’s annual dropout rate meant that 843 fewer students dropped out in 2011-12 than during the previous year, and 4,385 fewer students dropped out than in 2006-07, when the annual dropout rate was at a high mark of 3.8 percent.

At Triton Regional High School, the drop-out rate has seen a steady decline over the past three years: 2011-12, 2.1 percent; 2010-11, 2.2 percent; 2009-10, 2.6%

“The FY14 budget discussion is very focused on what additional staffing we need to ensure that students at risk of failure (not just those with identified special needs) receive the support they need to be successful,” said Farmer, who also noted that the district will keep on expecting more, “working toward all students having well developed literacy skills, engaging all students in a rigorous and relevant curriculum, differentiating instruction, personalizing students’ experience of their school, and building our professional capacity to secure excellence for all.”