Graduation rates were a mixed bag in Lake and Porter counties, with some schools showing major increases and others showing small declines.
Four of the five high schools on probation and under threat of state takeover showed improvement with the exception of East Chicago Central High School. Central's graduation rate dropped from 55.7 percent to 52 percent.
Among the schools on probation, Gary Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy had the highest percent of improvement with a 2010 graduation rate of 56.7 percent, up from 44.4. Hammond High and Hammond Morton both inched up slightly. Calumet High School showed marked improvement going from 68 percent to 72.2 percent.
Calumet Principal Tim Pivarnik said he and guidance counselors worked a couple of years ago to identify juniors who were behind one to five credits, and put those students in a credit recovery program.
"They were able to recoup their credits so when they became seniors, they could finish out their year on time," he said. "This has been very successful instead of waiting until May to tell students they don't have the credits to graduate and will have to return to school in the summer or fall to finish. We put several strategies in place to improve the rate. This shows me our systems are starting to work."
East Porter County Superintendent Rod Gardin said Morgan Township Middle/High School did a great job with a 100 percent graduation rate, up two percentage points, and Washington Township was able to bring its rate up to 94.7 percent. Morgan is the only high school in Lake and Porter counties which reached a 100 percent graduation rate, with all 53 seniors graduating.
Kouts Middle/High School dropped from 96.1 percent to 85.9 percent. Gardin said the decline at Kouts was a consequence of the class of that year. He said there were 64 students, eight of whom didn't graduate and didn't receive a high school diploma and didn't pass the state's Graduation Qualifying Exam. He said four of the eight were special education students and weren't able to pass the GQE. He said administrators would be concerned if it was a trend but it's not.
Whiting High School dropped from 91.3 percent to 85.1 percent. Gary Lew Wallace Science Technology Engineering and Math Academy showed a major improvement, gaining 24.4 percentage points to 75.5 percent.
Bishop Noll Institute and Andrean High School continued to maintain high graduation rates at 84.8 percent and 97.7 percent respectively. Thea Bowman's first graduating class in 2010 had 119 students, 101 of whom successfully graduated for a rate of 84.9 percent. The 21st Century Charter School at Gary showed a slight increase with a rate of 76.5 percent. There were 17 seniors, 13 of whom graduated.
Though Merrillville High School showed a gain going to 90.8 percent, Merrillville Superintendent Tony Lux cautions the 2010 graduation rate is based on the old high school ISTEP-Plus test, not the new end-of-course assessments. That will go into effect with this year's junior class and "we may face a drop when that happens because there is a much higher standard of performance," Lux said.
He said graduation rates have increased based on several factors including continued instruction to assist students in passing the state exam and moving to a trimester, which gives students more opportunities to repeat classes.