Stokes County Schools continue to be successful with their district graduation rate exceeding the state average of 85.8%. The district graduation rate for the 2015-2016 was 89.9%, placing Stokes County Schools in the top 25% of school districts across the state with a ranking of 28 out of 115 school systems. Each of the county’s three traditional high schools as well as the Early College were above 90% with Meadowbrook Academy exhibiting the highest rate in school history.
“The graduation rate is a number by which high schools are judged, but what it represents is much more important,” said Stokes Superintendent Dr. Brad Rice. “A great graduation rate starts in early childhood at home or a pre-kindergarten classroom and continues through elementary school, through middle school and ends with a high school. If students don’t receive a quality education at any level, it can cause frustration later that can lead to a student dropping out of school. Graduation rates are also an indicator of the strength of a county and individual community.”
Rice acknowledged there were factors outside of school that impact graduation rates.
“There are students who drop out to support their families, to provide medical assistance, or provide transportation to their parents or other family members. A strong community helps to meet many of these needs which allows student to stay in school to get an education.”
The four-year high school cohort graduation rate is used as one measure to evaluate schools on their effectiveness in meeting needs of students and preparing them for college or careers. It’s one of the components used to calculate the school performance grade which is in its third year of existence.
In North Carolina, 519 high schools had a reportable graduation rate. Out of those, 129 schools were able to graduate students with a rate greater than 95%. Stokes County Schools is among those systems. Stokes County Early College High School had a graduation rate of 97.3%, the highest graduation rate since the school opened in the fall of 2009.
North Stokes High School also had a graduation rate greater than 90%. Although the school rate dropped slightly to 92.3% this past year, North Stokes was ranked as 189 out of the 519 high schools in the state. South Stokes and West Stokes High Schools each had rates nearing the 95% rate. South Stokes was successful in graduating 94.84% of the students within the four year cohort window ranking them as 132 out of 519. West Stokes was equally successful graduating students at a rate of 94.85%, taking a slight edge over their cross county rival. West was ranked 131 out of 519 high schools in the state.
“As I have been in our high schools this year I have seen student-centered schools. I’ve seen teachers who care about the students as people first,” Rice said. “I believe these relationships are important to keep students in school and learning while they are there. I’ve seen engaging classes where students are active learners of relevant curriculum. I’ve also noticed a sense of community in the schools. All of these factors are important as students make the decision to stay in school.”
Meadowbrook Academy had many first with the 2015-2016 graduating class. With the highest graduation rate in school history of 48.3%, the school had the largest graduating class and for the first time the graduation ceremony had a student speaker. The class was also proud to be the first class in school history to have a class member accepted to attend a four-year college.
“Stokes County Schools will continue to strive to provide the best education possible for all students in Stokes County. As a result, it is my hope the graduation rate continues to climb as students get the educational foundation they need to succeed in life beyond graduation,” Rice said.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.