The Albany County School District No. 1 is taking a look at pathways to increase graduation rates among its high school students.

The Wyoming Department of Education released data on high school graduation rates across Wyoming school districts this week. ACSD No. 1 is pretty close to the state average of 80.2 percent, at 79.8 percent. While that rate puts Albany County ahead of other districts such as Laramie County School District No. 1 in Cheyenne and Natrona County School District No.1 in Casper, increasing that graduation rate is a goal for Albany’s school district.

Assistant Superintendent John Weigel said that while graduation rates have been pretty consistent, there are issues that the district is looking to address to help the graduation rate rise.

Weigel said one strategy the district is using is taking a look at is certain at risk students and helping them get on track to graduation.

“Students who are considered homeless, students who are on an individual education plan, students who might be eligible for lunch and then our migrant population is another one we look at,” Weigel said.  “Across the state and within the district we know that those are some students who are not being successful and graduating within our systems.”

Weigel said there are also many students who have issues at home and have to provide for their families and they are at risk of not graduating as well. Weigel said the district is looking at different strategies to help those students graduate, such as credit recovery.

“Students who maybe failed and where close to passing the course, would actually have additional time to show proficiency so they can actually credit,” Weigel said.

Early warning systems have also been helpful in helping students who are struggling with grades and attendance to get back on track before it’s too late to graduate.

Another strategy the district is employing is student engagement. By getting students involved and thinking about the future, the district says, they are less likely to drop out of school.

Superintendent Jubal Yennie said that as part the school district’s recently approved strategic plan, the school district will have increased engagement and support for students to be successful.

“We’ve put out the idea of a capstone project and some innovative, engaging things that we can start engaging students a little more directly, so they have a little more connection to the career and readiness role of what we are trying to do for them,” Yennie said.

Yennie said the school district is implementing a Naviance program, which is a college and career readiness program that engages students through things like an interest inventory so students can start exploring career pathways early on and start thinking about the future.

Getting students to think about the future, Yennie said, is an important way to keep students in school and getting them to graduation day.

“It’s that whole engagement piece, you know ‘why am I spending my time here at the high school?’ And if there’s a purpose behind that and it’s directed, we will be more successful with more students,” Yennie said.

The ACSD No. 1 school board approved the strategic plan in November. The plan features three major goal areas – forming strong community relationships, innovative teaching and learning, and optimal operations.

Yennie said while he thinks the school district will come away with some early wins in goal area one-community relations and in goal area three- optimal operations. But, he says, the powerhouse of the strategic plan, as well as the one as that will most greatly affect graduation rates, is the second goal area, innovative teaching and learning.

Yennie said the school district has already implemented some of the strategies in the third goal area and expects to see a lot of progress. Yennie said the school district expects to put in a lot of work to actualize the work of the strategic plan over the next year, as well.

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