Utah’s public high school graduation rates were released this week, showing an average increase across the state but a slight decrease in the Cache County School District and Logan City School District.
Last spring more than 43,000 students graduated from Utah’s public high schools. This represents 87.4% of students who entered schools as freshmen four years earlier. Nearly 2,000 of those students graduated from CCSD and LCSD.
While rates from these two school districts have decreased by a point or two, overall, CCSD and LCSD high schools all together had a 92.1% graduation rate in 2019, which is above the state average.
“It says a lot about our district,” said Brittany Foster, the principal at Ridgeline High School. “They are very supportive and very student-oriented, and the parents are extremely supportive of students and supportive of the schools. That helps develop successful programs.”
Schools across the valley are trying different tactics to increase graduation. At Ridgeline, Foster said they discuss individual needs while also focusing on an overall state of college and career readiness.
“Our goal is to have all of our students graduate,” said Frank Schofield, the LCSD Superintendent. “We have not yet reached that goal but I am proud of the progress so far.”
Logan High School had 83.9% of its seniors graduate in the spring, and Schofield said he recognizes the hard work being done by students and teachers. Throughout the rest of this year, Schofield said the goal is to implement more mentorship programs and continue to promote academic outreach to help more students reach graduation.
Schofield said students face many challenges that can keep them from receiving a diploma. Disruptions in early schooling, language barriers and emotional trauma have a big influence on students’ graduation goals.
Dave Swenson, the principal at Green Canyon High School, said social and mental health has a lot to do with the lasting success of a student.
“Students are exposed to so many things,” Swenson said. “They have a lot of stress these days. Gosh, when I was their age, I was just wondering where my baseball mitt was and what we were going to have for lunch.”
Swenson said parent involvement and finding positivity in the present moment are areas of great importance when it comes to helping a student reach the end. Green Canyon saw a 96.9% graduation rate last spring, the highest in the district.
“We certainly want every student who comes into our system to graduate, and that is sometimes difficult,” said Steve Norton, the CCSD superintendent. “Our basic philosophy is that getting a student to graduate starts in kindergarten. Getting students to the point where they are able to do what is required of them at each step of the way is vital to their success and eventual graduation.”
Schofield said that reading, writing and collaborating helps students feel prepared for each step to graduation. Graduation is in turn a step that helps students prepare for the rest of life.
“Being handed that diploma is a step toward a successful life after high school,” Schofield said. “For every student to experience that is the goal.”