The Webster Parish high school graduation rate is above the state average by 3 percent, putting the parish at 80.8 percent for 2015-16.

The state’s graduation rate percentage is at 77 percent. Webster Parish Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland Jr. said he’s “thrilled” with the results, but he expected to have an above average graduation rate.

“We are extremely pleased that our graduation rates have grown 11 points from the 2005-06 school year,” he said. “We are pleased that we are 3 points above the state average.”

In a release last week, the Louisiana Department of Education presented the state graduation rate along with each parish, comparing them back 10 years. In 2005-06, Webster Parish’s graduation rate was at 73.8 percent. In 2014-15, Webster’s graduation rate was 2 percent higher at 82.8 percent.

For 2015-16, surrounding parishes show their graduation rates: Bossier Parish at 82.8 percent; Claiborne Parish at 88.3 percent; Bienville Parish at 89.9 percent and Caddo Parish at 73.6 percent.

In 2005-06, those same parishes were showing graduation rates: Bossier Parish at 74.8 percent; Claiborne Parish at 72.6 percent; Bienville Parish at 78 percent and Caddo Parish at 59.8 percent.

Secondary Supervisor Linda Hudson said there are a number of reasons for the growth, namely working with high school freshman through career and guidance counselors.
“Ninth grade is a critical area, we feel,” she said. “We look at our transitional ninth graders, how they’re placed in classes and working with counselors. They work with the ninth grade on graduation expectation, where they are, their personal goals, where they would like to go and where they will go.”

Hudson said district leadership teams have played an integral part in raising the graduation rates in that school principals and teachers are communicating about what works and what doesn’t. Leaders from different schools come in and talk about their successes and how they reached their goals.
Teachers are instructing students in curriculum they need and when they need it, she said.

“This information goes back into the schools and our hopes are that it will be distributed among the teachers in the classrooms so they are better aware of what curriculum to teach,” she said. “In that respect, we don’t lose valuable time. All of these things work towards these students wanting to stay in school, better success and we feel good about it.”

While they haven’t seen a large jump in graduation pathways yet, as that data becomes available, it will likely play a critical role in the decisions they make at that time, she said.

“The Class of 2016 maintained the graduation gains of preceding classes and exceeded them in the education levels they achieved. More students than ever before are graduating already having earned college credit and high-value workplace credentials,” State Superintendent John White said. “Our policies are working. But there is much more left to be done. Even today, too many students do not graduate on time, and too many graduates are not clearly qualified for the next phase of education. These challenges often play out along lines of race, class, language, and disability. As we enter the era of ESSA, we must be mindful of these continuing challenges, and we must address them head-on.”