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SVVSD tops charts for graduation rates

“St. Vrain hasn’t lowered the bar."
St. Vrain Virtual High

The St. Vrain Valley School District has steadily improved its graduation rates. In 2023, the district graduated 93.3% of its students on-time and now has the highest on-time graduation rate among Colorado’s top 10 school districts.

Graduation rates across the state improved to 83.1% in 2023, a 0.8 percentage point increase from the previous year, according to the Colorado State Department of Education.

“Colorado's modest graduation rate increase is the product of the hard work by educators, families and students over the years,” said Susana Córdova, Colorado’s education commissioner. "Successfully graduating from high school is a significant milestone that opens doors to numerous opportunities for students after high school. Given the challenges that our students and educators have faced over the last four years, I am glad that in Colorado we continue to see an improved graduation rate and a decreasing dropout rate. It shows students know the value of staying in school and receiving a quality education."

A total of 56,812 students graduated from Colorado high schools in four years in 2023. Around 2,351 SVVSD students graduated in 2023. SVVSD has one of the highest rates of students who are considered to be economically disadvantaged. Of this cohort, 86.5% graduated on time.

Jackie Kapushion, district deputy superintendent, said there isn’t just one thing to credit for the district’s success in helping students graduate on time. She said the district has several systems in place to ensure stable graduation rate growth and to help students achieve more. 

Those programs include after-school tutoring for students in which the district provides snacks, access to teachers and transportation that eliminates barriers for students to seek the help they need. Kapushion also said student engagement outside the classroom in activities such as music, sports, robotics, theatre and more help keep students engaged both inside and outside the classroom. 

According to Don Haddad, SVVSD superintendent, the core of the district’s graduation success is the teachers and staff in the buildings. He said these educators connect, care and challenge the students to do more and to stay on top of their work. 

High school administrators also assist students with staying on top of their coursework through a program called Grad Tracker. This program monitors all students and assesses where they are in the course of graduation. It also allows teachers to track student progress and quickly identify when a student falls behind. Teachers can then help students get back on track.

If a student does fall behind, the district offers e-credit courses that allow students to make up any missing credit from the 24.5 credits required for graduation.

This year, SVVSD also saw a rise in graduation rates among Hispanic students at 88.8%. When Haddad began as superintendent that rate was around 50%. Kapushion said the district creates opportunities for all students that allow students to see their future through programs such as PTech. 

“Some of these students may not have seen a path to college or a high-paying profession,” Haddad said adding that teachers help students find areas of interest and nudge them toward further education at no cost through the district. 

Even with all of these supports and programs, SVVSD expects a lot from its students with one of the highest graduation credit requirements in the state at 24.5 credit hours. It also requires students to take three years of math — with Algebra I being the lowest level allowed — and three years of science. 

“St. Vrain hasn’t lowered the bar,” Kapushion said. “If you believe students can rise to a high level they will achieve a high level.”