Nine percent improvement since 2016
By Toni Stauffer
At the Jan. 15 Board of Education work session, Superintendent Randy Wilkes reported that the Phenix City Schools now has an unprecedented federal graduation rate of 97 percent for the spring 2018 class, an increase of four percent from last year, and a nine percent increase from the 2015-2016 school year. The PCS state graduation rate, which includes special education students who have an Individualized Education Program, is also unprecedented at an impressive 99 percent.
“That is a less than one percent dropout rate, which is phenomenal,” Wilkes said.
It all begins when every kid enters the ninth grade and anyone they lose along the way counts against the school system’s numbers. Wilkes credits the exceptional graduation rates to everyone in the system doing their part.
“We have gone to great lengths to accommodate our students before school, during school and after school,” Wilkes said. “So, if a child lacks credit, we might do credit recovery at any of those times. If a child has failed, we’ll give opportunities during the summer and before and after school to make up that credit. There’s been a lot of effort on the part of students, teachers and parents to make sure that happens.”
He said that the school system does a very good job of appealing to students and talking to them about life’s responsibilities, career opportunities and college opportunities.
“We do a great job with our counseling services in making sure that students don’t drop out of school.”
Wilkes said when he started in 2014, the graduation rate was at 81 percent and he realized the rates were not where they should have been. He looked at the numbers that summer and found that students were withdrawing, dropping out, etc., from the Freshman Academy and were not being tracked. Once they figured out the problem, the graduation rates increased from 81 percent to 87 percent in just one year—a six percent increase. The rate has been increasing every year since.
“Now we’re at a ceiling, and the question is what do we do now,” Wilkes said.