District graduation rate sees significant increase

The Marshalltown Community School District graduation rate increased nearly 8 percent from 2011 to 2012 according to figures released by the Iowa Department of Education this week.

The four-year graduation rate for 2012 was 85.01 percent, up from 77.35 percent for 2011. The statewide graduation rate for 2012 was 89.26 percent.

“The significant increase of eight points in a year is not an accident, but rather a culmination of our students’ determination, supportive parents and the hard work of highly dedicated and tireless staff,” said Marshalltown High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay.

Over the last five years, the district has focused on improving student achievement, increasing student opportunities for career readiness and employment while working to design and deliver a safe and organized environment for student learning.

“Teachers have worked collaboratively to design classroom instruction that will meet the needs of all learners,” said Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, associate superintendent for student achievement. She noted class sizes have been reduced in courses that challenge ninth grade students, allowing for more small-group instruction. Advanced Placement and career academies have been increased to promote both high school and college credit opportunities for students.

“The result is a comprehensive system for learning that promotes student engagement and improves the graduation rate,” Pecinovsky said.

Increasing the district graduation rate is a key component of the Strategic Action Plan and the work to make Marshalltown the district of choice. The 2012 graduation rate meets the annual benchmark as the district works toward a 95 percent graduation rate by 2014.

The four-year graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students receiving a regular diploma in four years or less (by the 2011-2012 school year) by the number of first-time ninth graders enrolled in the fall of 2008, figuring in student transfers.

“We will continue to engage students in rigorous and relevant learning that will motivate students to achieve even higher,” Phomvisay said. He says the use of smaller learning communities are helping connect students to school. The district is also striving to provide curriculum that meets the needs of students and the community, like Project Lead the Way, which began at Miller Middle School last fall and will expand to MHS in fall 2013.

“We strive to be a student centered school whereby students are valued and their accomplishments celebrated,” he said.