- Lenoir County Public Schools
Steady climb takes graduation rate to new high
The four-year graduation rate for Lenoir County Public Schools climbed to a new high with the Class of 2020, continuing its steady rise over the past five years and improving more rapidly that the state average over the last decade and a half.
At 85.4 percent, the 2019-2020 graduation rate is about three-quarters of a percentage point better than the previous year (84.7) and six points better than five years ago (79.4), according to data accumulated by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Since 2006, the earliest year included in NCDPI data released last week, the combined graduation rate for LCPS’s five high schools has climbed by 29.9 points, while the state average has improved by 19.3 points. The four-year cohort graduation rate for the state in 2020 was 87.6 percent.
“We are very pleased to be recognized as one of the school districts in North Carolina posting gains in our four-year cohort graduation rate over the last five years,” Superintendent Brent Williams said. “The numbers represent progress toward achieving one of our essential strategic goals as a district and as individual schools.
“I celebrate our teachers, school counselors, other staff members, students and parents who have been united in working to make these goals a reality. I want to thank all of our stakeholders for their hard work in contributing to these positive steps forward for our district and for the young people that we serve.”
All subgroups detailed in the NCDPI data shared in LCPS’s 2020 increase and in many cases paced the improvement.
Both Blacks and Hispanics graduated at a rate about 3 percentage points higher than the year before. A seven-point gap between white and Black students in 2019 narrowed to nothing in 2020, with nearly identical percentages of the two groups graduating – 84.6 percent for Blacks and 84.4 for whites.
Of the 70 seniors in the four-year cohort classified as Hispanic, 88.6 percent graduated. Ninety percent of students classified as English Learners, or those for whom English is a second language in the home, graduated in 2020 compared to 80 percent the previous year.
“Over the past several years, Lenoir County has placed a laser like focus on the graduation rate. Students who are at risk for dropping out are provided multiple opportunities to discuss how they are able to complete high school and then work with staff at the school and district level to formulate a plan for completion,” Amy Jones, director of high school education for LCPS, said. “While there is still room for growth and improvement, we are very pleased with this increase and plan to work towards a continuous increase of the LCPS graduation rate.”
Like most of the final semester for the Class of 2020, grading and testing took a turn toward the unusual due to the coronavirus pandemic. Under guidance from the State Board of Education, seniors earned credit if they were passing classes in March, when in-school instruction was suspended. The board also cancelled state-required high school exams.
Among the district’s traditional high schools, Kinston High posted the largest year-over-year gain, going from an 82 percent graduation rate in 2019 to 85.8 in 2020. Lenoir County Early College High School continued to lead the district, with 100 percent of its Class of 2020 completing high school graduation requirements in four years – one of the metrics that earned the school another listing in U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools in America.
Seniors who earned diplomas from Kinston High School in June pushed KHS to a record four-year graduation rate and helped Lenoir County Public Schools continue its steady climb to a new high for the district of 85.4 percent.