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D25 Grad Rates Jump 10 Percentage Points In 5 Years

The graduation rate in the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District have shot up from 86 percent to 96 percent in the last five years, said secondary education director Bob Devine.

The jump is due to several initiatives, including the district’s ISAT graduation alternative, Plato.

Because the ISAT is a graduation requirement, the state also requires every school district to have an alternative option. Not every student can pass every test, so the alternative helps put all students on the same page.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, the trustees considered three students for early graduation. While that’s not a-typical, these specific students were special. They have the credits and the grades, but can’t pass the ISAT.

“We don’t have very many students who are getting ahead in their credits and want to graduate early, but yet over here on the other hand, weren’t able to pass all three sections of the ISAT. But in this case, that’s the case,” Devine said.

An unusual situation like that proves just how helpful the alternative route can be, he said.

If students can’t pass the ISAT, they take a remedial class in the subjects they have difficulty with. If they can’t pass the test a second time, they go through the Plato program. It’s a series of online lessons in either math, reading or language.

“Then they can go back and review, and retake and so on. But eventually — and we have adults working with them, okay? We have a very high success rate,” Devine said.

Once the students get to a specific mastery level that’s comparable to the ISAT, they get the district’s stamp of approval to graduate. But, Devine said, it doesn’t just help the students, it keeps the district from losing funding.

“Because if they don’t graduate, if they don’t complete the alternate route or pass the ISAT, then they’re a dropout, then our graduate rate goes down and that could affect our AYP, No Child Left Behind status,” Devine said.

When they’re looking at getting that final 4 percent into a cap and gown, Devine said the district is dealing with factors beyond the classroom.

Devine said about 50 to 60 students need to use the alternative option every year.

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