Wichita schools’ graduation rate continues to rise

11/26/2013 1:53 PM

11/26/2013 1:53 PM

The Wichita school district’s graduation rate increased again this year and is up more than 13 percentage points from four years ago, district officials announced Tuesday.

The district’s graduation rate for 2013 was 76.5 percent – still below the state average of 86 percent but well above Wichita’s 2009 graduation rate of 63.1 percent.

“We are pleased to see the continued growth,” said Bill Faflick, assistant superintendent of secondary schools for the Wichita district, in a news release.

“The increase is the result of staff looking at how our students are performing” and offering extra support through extended school days, credit-recovery classes and programs such as AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which helps prepare at-risk students for college, Faflick said.

The graduation rate has risen for students across the district, officials said, including significant increases among several subgroups. The largest increases were among boys. Over the past four years, the graduation rate for white males is up 25 percent; the rate for African-American males increased 24 percent; and the rate for Hispanic males rose 30 percent.

The graduation rate is measured by dividing the number of graduates by the number of freshmen who started high school four years earlier – minus students who transfer, leave the country or die during that four-year period. Students who take five years to graduate are not included in the calculation.

About three years ago, the U.S. Department of Education mandated that all states use the same formula to calculate graduation rates, a fundamental indicator of school performance.

Prior to that, Kansas districts calculated their graduation rates by dividing the number of graduating seniors by the number of graduating seniors plus dropouts from the previous four years. Between 2005 and 2009, Wichita’s graduation rate ranged from 75 percent to 81 percent.

District leaders have expressed frustration over the new formula, which they say affects urban school districts more than others by diminishing the roles of alternative high schools, learning centers, e-schools and other nontraditional paths to graduation.

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