Middle graduation rates up slightly under new state system

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – The school district’s graduation rate increased by about 1 percent to 82.41 for the 2011-12 school year, the state recently announced.

"I really don't want to make anything out of it, it's so close," said Superintendent Michael Kopakowski.

The graduation rate is based on the four years students are in high school. Gov. Chris Christie and Commissioner Chris Cerf announced the new federally mandated method to determine the graduation rate in April.

Middle graduated 80.90 percent of students in 2010-11.

Statewide, the graduation rate rose to 86 percent this year from 83 percent in 2011, according to information released by the state Department of Education.

The state attributes the increase to school districts doing a better job tracking and reporting student data.

Kopakowski said he disagrees with special education students being included in the graduation rate. Some of them attend school longer than four years, he said, which negatively affects the district’s our graduation rate.

That needs to be explored by the state, Kopakowski said.

Officials have taken steps to work on Middle’s graduation rate, including focusing on student attendance district-wide.

At the high school, students failing at least two subjects have to go to an after-school homework club that meets three times a week, said Principal Rich Falletta. Students can get help with mathematics and other topics.

During the summer, students took part in a freshmen program that included tours of the high school.

“I thought it was a success,” Falletta said.

A freshmen program is also planned for summer, he said.

Kopakowski said improving the gradation rate and attendance is a team effort. Falletta lauded the high school staff for improving the high school’s graduation rate.

"While we are excited to see the graduation rate increase this year, the overall number of graduates did not change, which indicates that the change is largely due to better reporting and tracking of students by districts," DOE chief performance officer Bari Erlichson said in a press release. "In essence, this means that 86 percent is much closer to our true graduation rate than the 83 percent reported last year."

About 224 students graduated in June from Middle Township High School, according to Falletta. There are 217 students in this year’s senior class.


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