Caldwell County breaks graduation rate record

Jul. 04, 2014 @ 06:06 AM

Caldwell County's high schools set a new record graduation rate this year as 90.9 percent of the students who entered as freshmen four years ago graduated in May, according to unofficial figures the Caldwell County Schools reported to the state.

All three of Caldwell County’s high schools reported graduation rates over 90 percent, Superintendent Steve Stone said.

“It’s an upward trend we’ve seen over the last six or seven years,” Stone said. “I’m just really, really proud of this.”

The state is still compiling graduation statistics for the 2013-14 school year, but last year only 11 of the state's 115 districts reported graduating more than 90 percent of their students in four years, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Since 2006, both Caldwell's graduation rate and the state's average have steadily climbed, but Caldwell's progress has been greater: Caldwell's rate has risen 23.7 points, from 65.7 percent to last year's 89.4 percent, while the state average rose 10.7 points, went from 71.8 percent to 82.5 percent.

From 2009, when Caldwell's rate first exceeded the state's, to 2013 the county's graduation rate rose 16.9 points, from 72.5 to 89.4 percent, while the state’s rose 10.7 points, from 71.8 to 82.5 percent.

Stone believes that Caldwell’s success comes from the use of “interactive, interesting, hands-on” curriculum and how hard teachers work to establish relationships with their students.

“It wasn’t too long ago when we were at the bottom of the state, and now we’re at the top. All of the credit goes to our teachers for making it happen,” Stone said. “It’s not only about knowing the kids, but it’s about developing that relationship with them and them developing that with the teachers. I think kids know that our teachers really want them to graduate and be successful.”

Stone said that continuing to achieve higher and higher graduation rates will be difficult, but that does not mean the school system will not strive for it.

“We are certainly going to shoot for it,” Stone said. “We’re going to shoot for that 100 percent. It gets more difficult once you’ve crossed 90, but we’re going to do our best to get to that next level, to get even higher, because we’re capable of it.”

Official numbers for the state and all counties will be posted by September.