High School Graduation Rates Up Statewide, Lansing Posts Significant Gains

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Michigan is doing a better job of getting high school students to graduate.

New data out Thursday from the state shows 77 percent of high school graduates get a degree within four years, an increase of a little more than half of a point over the Class of 2012.

In Mid-Michigan some districts are faring better than others, like Haslett where the district has a 95 percent graduation rate.

"We have systems of support that are in place to make them successful from the minute they walk through our doors," said Bart Wegenke, principal as Haslett High School.

Wegenke said it's no accident as the district has spent the past few years working on programs to track the grades, discipline referrals, and attendance of individual students, known as early warning signs data.

"Those three indicators we track every 3 to 4 weeks and if we see kids who aren't being successful, we're quick to make sure we put a system of support in place," he said. "It's really transformed our building into looking at not students so much as a whole but as individuals and meeting those individual needs."

It's something the Lansing School District is working toward.

Compared to districts like Haslett or Okemos, Lansing's numbers aren't much to write home about but Lansing School Board President Peter Spadafore says there's reason to be optimistic about the overall gains seen at the three high schools.

"You look at the numbers and you think these aren't spectacular numbers," Spadafore said. "But when you look at the growth it really gives you some hope for what's coming and the steps we've taken as a board and as school district they appear to be working."

Among large districts in Michigan, Lansing is one of the five most-improved compared to the Class of 2012.

Everett High School fared the best with a 67 percent graduation rate which is up from 57 percent in 2012. Sexton improved slightly from 56 to 58 percent, while Eastern increased from 60 to 66.9 percent.

The district's overall graduation rate increased from 51.56 to 56.01 percent, which is a good sign for a district with schools at risk of being taken over by the state's Education Achievement Authority, Spadafore said.

"It definitely says to the state if you give us the time to focus on our issues and come up with a local solution I think we can see that it's being demonstrated at all three of our high schools," he said.

Elsewhere in Mid-Michigan, Holt is graduating 91 percent of its students within four years. East Lansing and Jackson both hit 89 percent, while 96 percent of St. Johns students graduate on time.

Both DeWitt and Grand Ledge have a 92 percent graduation rate.

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