CLARK COUNTY — Greater Clark County Schools saw an increase in its graduation rates across all three high schools in 2020.

The graduation rates are among the highlights of the district’s annual performance report. The 2019-20 reports were released this week on the Indiana Department of Education website.

Greater Clark’s overall graduation rate for 2020 was 97.1%, an increase from 93.9% in 2019. Greater Clark Superintendent Mark Laughner noted that the district had the highest graduation rate in the area compared with neighboring districts in Southern Indiana.

“I think it speaks not only to the work we’re doing with all of our students — and it’s very much a K-12 initiative when you look at the graduation metrics and rate — but also I think it speaks to what we’re doing at the high school level with the Academies of Greater Clark model and the pathways that we offer,” he said.

Greater Clark’s letter grade for 2019-20 is a B, a grade that was carried over from previous years due to a “hold harmless” agreement in Indiana. Unlike previous years, the report does not include testing data for 2019-20, since standardized testing was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Jeffersonville High School’s graduation rate in 2020 was 97.1% compared to 94.3% in 2019. New Washington High School’s graduation rate was 96.1% compared to 95.2% in 2019. Charlestown High School’s graduation rate in 2020 was 97.5%, compared to 93% in 2019.

The average graduation rate in Indiana for 2020 was 87.69%.

“When you look at all three of our high schools in Greater Clark…they were all in the top four in the area as far as graduation rates,” Laughner said. “So we’re very proud of that in terms of what our high schools are doing to meet the needs of our students.”

The report also shows increases in the number of students receiving Core 40 diplomas and Core 40 with honors diplomas.

At Jeffersonville High School, 95.3% of students received a Core 40 diploma in 2020 compared to 91% in 2019. Of those students, 42.9% received an honor diploma compared with 35.6% in 2019.

At New Washington High School, 98% of students received a Core 40 diploma in 2020 compared to 89.1% in 2019. Of those students, 51% received an honors diploma compared with 31.3% in 2019.

At Charlestown High School, 98.1% of students received a Core 40 diploma in 2020 compared to 96% in 2019. Of those students, 50.3% received an honors diploma compared with 40.8% in 2019.

“Our goal is to get at least 50% to graduate with an honor diploma,” Laughner said. “In the past year, we’ve seen between 40% and 50%, and it’s always a goal to increase that every year.”

Pam Hall, principal at Jeffersonville High School, said she believes the data “validates” the district’s switch from traditional education to an academy model at the high school level.

Greater Clark’s academy model allows high school students to explore a variety of career possibilities, and it sorts students into different academies and career pathways by the beginning of their sophomore year. The model went into full effect in the 2018-19 school year.

Hall said the academy model allowed Jeffersonville High School “to become a smaller school within a school.” The model focuses on making sure students pass their core classes, she said, and it allows for immediate interventions for struggling students.

“We don’t wait until they don’t earn that credit — we start looking at about week five and saying, who are those kids we need to give immediate intervention to so they don’t get behind,” she said.

Another area that saw overall growth in Greater Clark was the number of students in career and technical education programs in Greater Clark. Across the district, 2,510 were in a CTE program in 2019-20 versus 2,375 in 2018-19.

At Jeffersonville High School, 1,708 were in CTE in 2020 versus 1,605 in 2019. At New Washington Middle/High School, there were 158 in CTE in 2020, a slight decrease from 169 in 2019. At Charlestown High School, 619 were enrolled in CTE in 2020 versus 602 in 2019.

Also, the number of career and technical diplomas increased districtwide from 11.8% in 2019 to 14.5% in 2020.

Laughner said the academy model was built to create CTE pathways, whether it’s in-house at the district’s high schools or enrollment of students at Prosser Career Education Center.

“It allows them to have an internship and job-shadowing experience and really learn about a job they may be interested in while going to high school,” he said.

Greater Clark’s enrollment for the 2019-20 school year was 10,310. Enrollment has increased in the current school year by about 250 students, Laughner said.

“We’re proud of what our schools are doing in Greater Clark,” Laughner said. “We feel like we’re doing great things for our kids, and I think the data shows that.”

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