High school graduation rates rise in Mississippi

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2017

Picayune Memorial High School students work hard in the classroom to make sure they get their diploma and potentially seek a higher education. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Picayune Memorial High School students work hard in the classroom to make sure they get their diploma and potentially seek a higher education.
Photo by Taylor Welsh

The average U.S. high school graduation rate is approximately 83.2 percent, and for the third consecutive year Mississippi has inched closer to that mark. Currently, 82.3 percent of students graduated from high schools in the state, Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, said in a news release.
Poplarville High School Principal John Will said in 2015, the school’s graduation rate was 81.1 percent, which increased to 81.5 percent in 2016 and expects it to jump to 90 percent in 2017, which is the best graduation rate on the Coast. Poplarville also had the lowest drop out rate on the Coast at 5 percent. Statewide, the average high school graduation rate of 2015 was 78.4 percent, 80.8 percent in 2016 and predicted to be 82.3 percent in 2017, according to the Mississippi Department of Education release.
“Ever since John came on board as the principal four years ago, we have seen nothing but an increase in the graduation rate, which is one of our main focuses here,” Poplarville Superintendent Carl Merritt said.
“It’s not just a one-man effort; it takes all of the administration and our wonderful group of curriculum coordinators and graduation coaches and even help from the parents,” Will said. “It’s been our mission, starting four years ago, to keep graduation rates high.”
Merritt said the key to climbing graduation rates year to year is communication between school administration, students and parents. Almost every week, Will said a group of administrators meet to discuss how best to help students at risk of dropping out to “let them know that we want them to be successful.”
“It is our mission as a school to come together as a team and hand a diploma to every single child, and we take that mission to heart,” Merritt said.
At Picayune Memorial High School, the graduation rates have also been increasing over the past couple of years. Last year the graduation rate was 82.5 percent, Mary Williams, Picayune curriculum director, said.
“These kids are the future leaders of our community, so it’s important to work with them and make sure they are focused on planning for the future,” Williams said. “It starts way before high school, going as far back as elementary to begin this process.”
Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said graduation rates at Pearl River Central High School were 84.1 for the school year ending in 2016, and forecasts that rate to be 84.6 percent for the end of this school year.
As for Mississippi graduation rates overall, the rate for students with disabilities also increased from 33.6 to 34.7 percent. The drop out rate statewide dipped for the third consecutive year, the MDE release states, going from 11.8 percent to 10.8.
Pearl River Central holds the highest graduation rate on the Coast, and fourth in the state, for students with disabilities in 2017 with 60.7 percent, PRC Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said.
“This just validates that every student can learn and succeed, not matter the challenges they face,” he said.
Last year, the graduation rate for students with disabilities at PRCHS was 41.2 percent and 28.3 percent 2015.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox