Across the nation graduation rates soar to the highest levels in almost four decades. Some of that is happening around the area and education leaders here say students are better understanding the importance of graduating high school.
"I think the national changes you are seeing are coinciding with the fact kids now realize more than ever you have to have a high school diploma and beyond to be employee-able," says Matt Vosberg, Rockford School District assistant superintendent.
More students across the nation are graduating, 78-percent; the Rockford Schools are behind that at 75 percent. The district hopes changes like more early education programs and the new academy model which will start next school year will make the difference. The district has already found the students who took part in early education had a higher graduation rate. Now they believe the academies, which let students tailor their education to their interests, will too.
"The academies allow us some flexibility with what students want to do after high school whether it is college or the workforce but there is a better emphasis on the relevance on why is this topic important and how does this apply to what's happening in the business community," says Vosberg.
The Winnebago School District does not have anywhere near the number of students that Rockford School District has nor does it have a low graduation rate. Winnebago sees about 90-percent of its students get a diploma but keeping teens from dropping out is still top of mind.
"There are some that are helping them in a social emotional way and there are some interventions that are helping them in an academic way," says Anne Weerda, Winnebago School District, curriculum director.
Winnebago also started a new program that lets students earn credits online if they have failed a class to keep them on track for graduation.
"We know that students who are struggling academically definitely are at higher risk for dropping out so those are definitely students that we work with."
The last time graduation rates were this good was the 1975-76 school year.
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