“We want students to feel committed,” he said.
Brindley noted that when students get involved, the byproduct is academic motivation and achievement. Even as the Common Core-based Regents tests are about to be unveiled in June, Brindley said he expects continued success because of the quality of the teachers in his school. He added that the district will continue its efforts to evaluate students early, not only concerning academics, but also their physical and mental health, to ensure positive outcomes.
Morris Central School has such a relatively small class that when one or two students don’t graduate, it really impacts the results, Superintendent Matthew Sheldon noted. This happened in 2012 when students left the school and didn’t re-register elsewhere, resulting in a graduation rate of 61.9 percent in a class of 42 students. The rate jumped back up to 89 percent in 2013.
The 2012 figure notwithstanding, Sheldon said that small schools like Morris can usually achieve a rate above the state average, noting that teachers can build one-on-one relationships. Students who have made a connection to an adult in school are more likely to succeed, he said.
Sheldon said his staff are attentive to issues such as poor attendance that can lead to large problems. According to Sheldon, physical, emotional and behavioral issues are best addressed before middle school age to put students on a path toward graduation. He said that it has been helpful to work with the Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES to ensure that students who work best in nontraditional classrooms, or who wish to pursue vocational training, have the opportunity to do so.
Laurens Central School Superintendent Romona Wenck said that with one student equaling as much as 4 percent of the graduating class, the rates can vary widely depending on the school year. In 2012, the rate was 77.8 percent with a class of 27. The total for 2013 was not available.