Wake County Schools

Wake graduation rate stays below state average in 2013-14

Posted September 4, 2014 10:46 a.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2014 6:58 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Public School System's high school graduation rate remained below the state average in the 2013-14 school year, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Public Instruction.

Wake County's 82.2 percent graduation rate for the most recent school year is the highest in the last eight years, officials said. The state's high school graduation rate was 83.8 percent.

Orange County Schools graduated 85.6 percent of its students this year, and Durham Public Schools' rate was 81.5 percent. Several other local school districts, including Nash-Rocky Mount, Weldon City and Northampton, Hoke, Warren, Vance, Halifax and Person counties, had high school graduation rates between 70 and 77 percent.

About two-thirds of students in Wake County met or exceeded state standards that were introduced two years ago. Grades and subjects tested included math and reading in grades 3-8, science in grades 5 and 8 and biology, English II and Math 1 in high school courses.

Wake County school leaders say they scored higher than the state average at every grade level in all areas. James Hedrick, principal at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, says his teachers use the results to target areas of weakness.

“We can’t be complacent where we are,” he said. “They will revise lesson plans and use those lesson plans as a strategic learning opportunity.”

Johnston County Schools reported a graduation rate of 85.4 percent, which marks a 3 percent increase over last year and puts the schools system over the statewide average.

Rodney Peterson, chief academic officer for Johnston County Schools, credited the improved score to the hard work of teachers, counselors, coaches, staff and students.

"JSC students should also be commended as their graduation rates have increased despite more challenging standards and assessments and increased graduation requirements," Peterson said in a statement.

Based on the state's new academic standards, less than 57 percent of North Carolina students are grade-level proficient.

But state Superintendent June Atkinson said the scores don’t tell the whole story.

“Our End of Grade and End of Course tests are snapshots – they aren’t the movie,” she said.