Report card shows graduation rate continues to climb

COUNTY — The South Carolina Department of Education has released its annual report cards on schools and districts, showing the School District of Pickens County’s on-time graduation rate hitting a new high of 82 percent in 2015. This is the[cointent_lockedcontent]seventh straight year of improvement for the district’s graduation rate.

“The graduation rate is a tremendous story of ongoing success for our district,” SDPC superintendent Dr. Danny Merck said. “In 2010, the board of trustees set a goal of reaching an 80 percent graduation rate by 2015. We met that goal a year early, and last year we just kept building on that success.”

Assistant superintendent of instructional services Sharon Huff pointed to several initiatives that contributed to the increase including graduation coaches and the Adult Learning Center’s summer program.

“We placed graduation coaches at each high school to identify students who are at risk of dropping out and to work with those students one-on-one to see them through their high school careers,” Huff said. “Also, the summer program at the Adult Learning Center has had a huge impact by helping students who are right on the bubble to be able to earn enough credits to graduate before the graduation deadline each summer.”

Much of the information contained in the report cards, such as SCPASS scores, was released earlier this fall. However, district administrators took note of two other new pieces of information released in the report. The report revealed that 64.3 percent of SDPC’s 2014 graduating class was pursuing two- and four-year degrees, compared to the statewide average of 70.3 percent. It also showed that 60.9 percent of the district seniors were eligible for the LIFE scholarship, higher than the state-wide percentage of 42.2 percent.

“Those numbers taken together show us that our students are being well-prepared to succeed in college, but that some of them may have chosen not to apply,” Huff said. ” We are going to work to determine the reason. It may be because of the quality of programs offered at our Career and Technology Center are allowing some students to skip straight to successful careers. But we also want to make sure that students who are prepared for college have the confidence and resources to apply.”