State recognizes Polk for high graduation rate

Published 8:42 pm Monday, October 25, 2010

Polk County Schools was one of 10 N.C. school districts and 21 high schools recognized recently for having the highest four-year cohort graduation rates in the state for the 2009-10 school year. An awards ceremony was held in Raleigh, N.C., on Oct. 13.

Polk County, with a graduation rate of 86.0 percent, was ranked number 8 in the top ten school districts.

In each case, the graduation rates are for the four-year cohort graduation rate, which refers to the percentage of students who graduate from high school in four years or less. The rates are for students who were identified as being in the graduating class of 2010.

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“More than report card gardes, state test scores, or SAT results, the graduation rate reflects our ability to keep students engaged in school and learning so that they will earn a high school diploma,” said N.C. State Superintendent June Atkinson. “While I commend the 31 districts and schools we celebrate today for reaching rates of nearly 85 percent or higher, we must do more to ensure every student makes it to graduation day with the skills needed for success in the future.”

Governor Bev Perdue also spoke at the awards ceremony.

“When I visited Washington in August to make a pitch for North Carolina receiving Race to the Top funding, I talked about the innovative spirit of North Carolina. These are the people and the schools I was talking about,” Perdue said. “They embody the kind of thinking we need as we work toward a common goal of making sure every single student graduates high school ready for careers and college.”

The top school district in the state was Dare County Schools, with a graduation rate of 90.5 percent. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools came in second with a graduation rate of 89.0 percent.

North Carolina’s state-wide four-year cohort graduation rate for 2009-10 is 74.2 percent. This rate has improved each year since 2006, when North Carolina reported its first measurement of a cohort graduation rate and is up from 2008-09, when it was 71.8 percent.

While the statewide rate has continued to increase, the average graduation rates among males and students who are Native American, black, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient or those with disabilities are still lower than the statewide average.

Atkinson said continued investment in early childhood education, efforts to extend learning beyond the school year, focused attention of student absences in middle school, development of ninth grade academies, redesign of high schools into early college or career cluster models, implementation of a new statewide school accountability model and parent and community engagement in schools are all proven strategies to keep students from dropping out. See page 8 for more of Atkinson’s comments on graduation.

To view all district and school graduation rates, visit For more information about the awards, contact the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s communication division at 919-807-3450.