W.H.S. Improves Graduation Rates

By Dorothy Johnson


The Department of Education announced last week that Woodland Jr./Sr. High School was one of the top schools in the state for improving its graduation rate by ten per cent.  Principal Patricia Metta expressed her pleasure in the school’s improved graduation rate, but acknowledged that looking at statistics from one year to another is tricky.  For one reason, the statistics are based on an entirely different set of students from year to year and the motivation to graduate depends on the students (and the parents of those students) in a particular class.  In schools with small student populations like Woodland High School, it would only take three or four successes to improve the rate by ten per cent while in bigger schools depending on the size of their classes, it could take twenty successes to improve the graduation rate by ten percent.

With all the variables taken into consideration, Woodland High School has been praised for making a 10 percent improvement and the administration and staff deserves that praise because they have initiated many programs with graduation rates in mind.

“We have implemented the PLATO program,” explained Principal Metta.  “This is a course retrieval program that allows students to work on line to earn credits in classes they have failed. We used to use more correspondence courses for make-up classes, but because these courses are on-line, it is easier for teachers to monitor the work done and the time put in. In addition, PLATO classes come in many different levels so students may use them for enrichment as well as for make-up.  The courses are available as honor classes, AP courses, Enrichment and at lower reading levels.”

Principal Metta continued, “We have also instituted math labs during the day for make up credit.  When we schedule students who need extra math credits for graduation, we make sure that a math lab fits their schedule.  For seniors with a full schedule, we also offer adult education classes and independent courses.  One of the best motivators for improving graduation rates is the commitment of the staff to provide extra help before, during and after school.”

Other programs that were discussed by the principal were visiting homes and speaking with parents, holding staff meetings on students needing help and continued communication with parents. The school has had an advisor-advisee program for more than twenty years, but it is now offered as a career exploration class and comes with a full credit upon the completion of all career material over the four year period.  Students complete a portfolio for their advisor class and have to complete a community service project as part of the work.

“No student can leave this building after four years, and say that the staff has not done everything possible to help him or her graduate,” said Principal Metta.  “We do not water down our courses, but we give students every opportunity to succeed.”

This community effort with all students may be the best way to ensure success with graduation rates.