The St. Vrain Valley School District released Wednesday its latest strategies for achieving a 100% graduation rate.
The district’s graduation rate went from 86.3% in 2019 to 91.5% in 2022, district data shows. In 2010, the district’s graduation rate was 76.5%. The rates only include students who graduated on time — not those who needed additional months to meet the requirements.
Dr. Jackie Kapushion, the district’s deputy superintendent, presented St. Vrain’s graduation strategies, some of which are longstanding:
- GradTracker - a tool that allows area assistant superintendents, high school administrators, teachers and counselors to track — on a daily basis — credits earned, letter grades, attendance, class failure, the PSAT and SAT performance.
- AAA Support - staff are paid to provide additional instruction to help students complete missing assignments. The sessions are held several times a week in each school.
- Co-Curricular Engagement - activities that are provided to help students stay connected “beyond the classroom” to the school, Kapushion said.
- “F” Reports - run every two weeks for English Language Arts and Math classes to find out which students are slipping in their grades, so those students can receive extra support and their parents can be notified their children need help.
- Credit Check Meetings - area assistant superintendents meet with principals and school counselors to review students’ progress and establish plans to recover credits.
- P-TECH - helps many students — particularly those from socioeconomic disadvantage backgrounds — earn a free associate’s degree.
Despite having some of the highest graduation requirements in Colorado, St. Vrain Valley Schools’ graduation rate for 2022 was 9.2% higher than the statewide average of 82.3%, according to a report released earlier this month by the Colorado Department of Education.
Every district establishes their own graduation requirements. St. Vrain requires 24.5 credits to graduate, which includes three years of math and science. In comparison, the neighboring Boulder Valley School District requires 22 credits to graduate, which includes two years of math and science.
Colorado’s accreditation system “rewards school districts for lowering their graduation requirements,” said Dr. Don Haddad, St. Vrain Valley School District superintendent.
But St. Vrain will not lower the bar for graduating just to get higher rates, he said.
“The strategy that some school districts have adopted — to look good on the flawed accreditation system — is to do it at the expense of their students,” he said during the school board meeting.
While St. Vrain students earn graduation credits toward their high school diplomas, many are concurrently earning credits toward their first year in college through advanced placement programs, Haddad said. Other students are earning certifications while they attend high school and then being offered jobs with competitive pay upon their graduation.
“So many more kids are enrolled in career and tech ed programs, which means they’re getting their two-year certificate and they’re going to go on into making great salaries without any debt and be major contributors to society,” Haddad said.
St. Vrain Valley Schools’ dropout rate — which includes students who were expelled from school — increased from 0.7% in 2021 to 0.9% in 2022, the district data shows.
The district’s eight comprehensive high schools have an average graduation rate of 92.4%.
St. Vrain Valley Schools also saw graduation rates climb in the statewide report’s economically disadvantaged category — rates went from 76.8% in 2019 to 83.2% in 2022.