ALACHUA COUNTY — A higher percentage of Alachua County Public Schools students graduated on time in 2019, continuing a steady climb in the district’s graduation rates.
According to figures just released by the Florida Department of Education, Alachua County’s overall graduation rate for 2018 is 88.5%, up from 88% in 2017. For the third straight year local students outperformed their state peers, who graduated at a rate of 86.9 % in 2019.
The 2019 gain represents a five-year increase of more than 14 percentage points in the district’s graduation rate, which was 74.3% in 2015.
According to DOE, Alachua County Public Schools had both a larger ‘cohort’ of seniors and more graduates in 2019. The number of seniors rose from 2021 to 2082, with the number of those earning diplomas increasing from 1779 to 1843.
“I want to applaud our teachers, staff, administrators and particularly our students and their families for all their hard work in getting more of our students across the finish line,” said Superintendent Karen Clarke. “Earning a diploma on time in Florida is not easy, and it’s good to see more of our students rising to the challenge each year.”
Newberry High School has the highest graduation rate in 2019, with 100% of its students graduating on time. Eastside High had the biggest increase, from 92.5% to 94.9%.
The graduation rate for local African-American and Hispanic student also increased this year—from 79.2 % to 79.9% for African Americans and from 83.7% to 90% for Hispanic students.
African-American students at all of the seven high schools operated by Alachua County Public Schools graduated at a higher rate than their state peers in 2019. At six of those schools, the African-American graduation rate was 90% or higher this year.
Newberry High had the highest rate of 100%, while Eastside had the biggest gain in that category as well, with the graduation rate for its African-American students jumping from 84.9% to 91.8%.
“We really drilled into the data for individual kids to see what the challenges were, whether test scores, credit deficiencies or something else,” said Eastside High principal Shane Andrew. “Our teachers and staff worked very hard to provide students with whatever support they needed to meet the graduation requirements.”
“This took a team effort, with leadership from the district, hard work by our teachers and staff and great support from our community,” said Newberry High principal James Sheppard. “Whenever we asked for help, they responded.”
“I’m proud that we continue to exceed the state in this very important indicator,” said School Board Chair Eileen Roy. “We’ve certainly made significant gains over the last several years, and we want to keep improving even as the state raises the bar for graduation.”
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