by Ashley Sloboda
Graduation rates at most Allen County schools are on the rise, according to 2016 data released today by the Indiana Department of Education.
Of the 12 high schools among the county’s four public school systems, only one – Fort Wayne’s Snider High School – experienced a drop in graduation rates from the previous year.
East Allen University was the county’s only public school to graduate every student, a feat shared by private school Blackhawk Christian. Canterbury was not included in the state’s release but also has a 100 percent graduation rate.
Despite the drop from 94.4 percent to 93 percent, Snider remained on top at Fort Wayne Community Schools. Northrop came in second with 92.3 percent; New Tech Academy at Wayne High School in third with 92.1 percent; South Side fourth at 84.7 percent; and North Side last with 82.3 percent.
Fort Wayne Community Schools officials were excited about the districtwide graduation rate, 89.2 percent, particularly because it surpassed the statewide rate of 89.07 percent. Spokeswoman Krista Stockman noted the district’s high poverty level and said urban districts aren’t expected to exceed the state average.
School Board President Julie Hollingsworth cheered upon hearing the news.
“That’s awesome,” she said.
Both she and Stockman said the district places more value on graduation rates than ISTEP scores, which provide a snapshot in time and expects every student advances at the same rate.
“Getting them to graduation so they can be successful in whatever they choose to pursue, that’s our ultimate goal,” Stockman said.
The districtwide rate for East Allen County Schools, which has five high schools, was 91.8 percent, up from 88.9 percent the previous year.
Deborah Watson, assistant superintendent of secondary schools, said in a statement that the district is “extremely proud” of East Allen University’s rate and noted that rates for two other schools surpassed 90 percent.
“This validates the hard work being done by our students, teachers, and administrators everyday in our district,” Watson said in the statement.
Last month, the state’s accountability system labeled East Allen University as an F school. Superintendent Ken Folks at that time called the failing grade “the furthest from the truth” and pointed to its superb graduation rate. The district is appealing the state to reconsider the A-to-F grade.
Graduation rates at Northwest Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools, which each have one high school, were 96.7 percent and 96.6 percent, respectively.
Northwest Allen Superintendent Chris Himsel said in a statement that the district is proud of all its students and their accomplishments.
“We are especially proud of the work completed by our students to earn a high school diploma and position themselves to be contributing members of our community,” he said in the statement. “We are excited to learn about the accomplishments they will achieve throughout their adult lives.”
Homestead High School Principal Park Ginder said 96.6 percent is the highest graduation rate Southwest Allen has achieved under the current calculation method.
Because each percentage point at Homestead represents about 5.2 students, he views the 1.7 percent increase as about nine or 10 students whose lives were positively affected, he said.