Higher graduation rates are a positive sign

County stats exceed state average
Sep 20, 2013

The rising high school graduation rates in Haywood County — and the state as a whole — are a sign that steps taken in previous years to reduce the drop-out problem have worked.

The latest state analysis shows 82.5 percent of the students that enter public schools in the 9th grade graduate with a high school diploma. The Haywood rate is a half a percentage higher, with Pisgah having the highest rate of 88 percent Haywood Early College is second with 85.7 and Tuscola is close behind with a rate of 84.1.

Undoubtedly, the efforts made locally to offer multiple ways to pursue a high school diploma have been successful.

There’s Haywood Early College where incoming freshmen make a decision to pursue both a high school and college associates degree simultaneously. The program isn’t for everyone as it emphasizes academics first and has few extracurricular activities for the student population.

For students who don’t fit into the traditional high school environment, Central Haywood High offers an alternative setting. Before this concept was implemented in Haywood, students dropping out of (or being expelled from) Pisgah or Tuscola had no options.

Central Haywood’s graduation rates increased from 70.1 percent in 2011-12 to 83.1 percent in 2012-13, a stellar record for an alternative school.

Another option for high school students who need more flexibility is the Alternative Learning Center, an extension of Central's program.

As family circumstances and economic times grow more difficult, schools have had to find more and different ways to reach out to help teens meet the first necessary threshold of success in life — a high school diploma.

While a graduation rate of 83 percent still means there are plenty of students who enter high school in the 9th grade but don’t graduate, luckily there are also GED programs at the community college where young adults have yet another option.

In a society that increasingly relies on an educated work force, completing high school becomes an absolute necessity.

In Haywood, that’s not only possible, but a successful strategy has been forged.