At the near mid-point of the Hamilton Schools’ year officials are pointing to some key stats they said show the district is gaining momentum in student achievement gains despite weathering the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district’s own “Quality Profile” of various measurements of the 9,000-student school system’s operations also includes a key result from last spring, said Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mike Holbrook.
The graduation rate for Hamilton High School was the highest it has been in recent years, said Holbrook, who credited school staffers at that school — and in lower grades — for the improvement.
Holbrook said the recently released Quality Profile, which became a district-generated annual supplement to the state’s yearly report card after he become district leader in 2019, shows last year’s high school’s graduation rate was 97.4% and a marked jump from earlier years.
In spring of 2018, that same four-year graduation rate was 82.3%.
The rate in 2019 improved to 85.5% and in 2020 to 92.5%, he said.
There was no graduation rate report in 2021 due to the lack of state student testing the previous school year caused by the pandemic.
To improve to a 97.4% for graduating seniors during the historic pandemic upheavals since the onset of the virus in March 2020, makes the improvement all the more remarkable, said Holbrook.
“It (COVID-19) certainly disrupted learning. But we really worked on changing instructional approaches,” who also credited the district’s freshman school for its academic proficiency growth in recent years.
And he said improvements in grades 6-8 grades, including doubling class learning times of about 90 minutes per school day for students in English and math.
The district has also been one of the most aggressive among area school systems in using federal COVID-19 relief funds for schools to help add extra teachers to elementary grades.
But lower-grade innovations will take some years to be reflected in student classes as they reach high school age.
“What we have also done is we have double-blocked English and math courses, which kids are in English and math two (class) bells a day for each so kids were prepared for the (state) standardized tests and to do better when they got to the high school.”
The president of the Hamilton Board of Education, Laurin Sprague, praised the sweeping changes installed by Holbrook since becoming superintendent in 2019.
“We’re very please with the strides the high school and the district administration are making toward raising the graduation rate as high as possible,” said Sprague.
“That’s how students will be successful in life – by graduating high school in a timely manner,” he said.
Holbrook said the bottom line of the district’s latest report is “we are extremely encouraged and optimistic about the future. The approaches we are taking are starting to benefit the students and we are starting to see the results of that.”
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