A large part of how the state of Wyoming judges its high schools is by the number of students a school doesn't graduate, or the drop-out rate.
Last year's Sheridan High School class of 2011 had an 86 percent graduation rate, enough to pass No Child Left Behind Annual Yearly Progress standards. When students leave they hurt overall school performance scores, causing schools to not meet AYP and to be placed under state sanctions.
Numbers show a vast improvement from just a few years ago, SHS principle Dirlene Wheeler, says that there was a reason why the school's number one goal was, and still is, to reduce the number of students they don't graduate.
For SHS, not only does an effort to keep kids in school avoid Wyoming Department of Education sanctions, perhaps more importantly it prepares students for whatever comes after high school.
The state of Wyoming loses an estimated $13 million per graduating class in remediation, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. Remediation is defined as paying for the same education twice, so, when a college student takes remedial math or writing in college, most of the time those classes don't count toward a degree. That student pays for remediation when they could be working toward a degree and eventual entrance into the workforce.
Wheeler says that there are a number of offerings that prepare Bronc students for the next level. She talked about the approach they take to both keep kids in school and get them looking to what'snext.
Those academic interventions could be anything from Advanced Placement courses to an oath freshman take called the Freshman Graduation Pledge designed to get them thinking and working on the path to graduation, to the “Friday early out” that allows students with A's, B's, and C's on a week-to-week basis, early dismissal on Friday afternoons.
Dropping the Drop-outs to 10 percent...
Wheeler added that 86 percent is good, but that they have a goal of 90 percent graduation rate by 2013. She wants to reach that goal a year early, with this year's graduating class, 2012.
SHS Numbers of Students Lost in Years leading up to Graduation:
2009- 48 students
2010- 35 students
2011- 32 students
2012- 16 students
2013- 16 students
2014- 3 (lowest for a freshman class entering SHS ever for Dist. 2)
SHS Graduation Rates:
2009- 80 percent
2010- 84 percent
2011- 86 percent
Note: If a student graduates during the summer following the spring they were supposed to graduate before the following school year starts, Aug. 30 this year, then they do not count as a drop-out and hurt that class' grad rate. Students who switch schools or move away do not count as drop-outs.