Jan 25, 2013 3:48 PM by David Ortiviz
High school graduation rates across the country are climbing higher, but some of the biggest school districts in Southern Colorado are barely making the grade.
This year the national graduation rate rose two percentage points to 78%. By comparison the graduation rate is 67% for Colorado Springs District 11 and Canon City RE-1. For Pueblo City Schools (PCS) the numbers show roughly six out of ten students graduate in four years (Pueblo City Schools: 64%).
The good news is statewide more high schoolers are graduating on time, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. Raising the question why are so many slipping through the cracks?
"We all have our unique challenges," said Scott Jones, a spokesperson for PCS. Both PCS and D-11 say it's hard to pin-point an exact cause for the low graduation rates. However D-11 points out over half their students qualify for free and reduced lunch and they say it's a challenge to educate students plagued by poverty.
Pueblo has similar woes. "We deal with in our school district with a high population of at risk kids," said Jones.
The school districts pointed out their progresses. Compared to last school year slightly more seniors are graduating on time. It's a 1.3% growth for PCS and a 2.3% growth for D-11.
"Schools are doing a tremendous job, teachers are in regards to monitoring student's progress in the new graduation requirements that Pueblo City Schools put in place," said Jones. With a stronger focus on core subjects.
The other good news fewer high schoolers are calling it quits. The drop out rate in Pueblo fell 1.6%, measuring closer to the averages in D-11 and statewide.
"We're heading in the right direction and that direction is all about helping kids," said Jones. Baby steps they realize are part of a much larger goal. "We realize there's still a lot of work to be done," he added.
Not all districts in our region are trailing the national benchmark. For example nine out of ten students are graduating on time in
Cheyenne Mountain District 12, Academy 20 and Falcon 49.
You can look up your child's school by going to the Colorado Department of Education's website. On the website click "District Level Data, Graduates and Completers by District, Gender, and Race/Ethnicity"