State looks to boost graduation rate

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Keeping kids in school is a top priority for the Louisiana State Department of Education.

According to Senate Bill 316 / Act 257, the graduation rate must be at least 80 percent by 2014.

"The bottom line is about every student graduating on time with their peers," says Ralph Thibodeaux, the Redesign Director for the Louisiana State Department of Education. "The more graduates we have, the better we can improve our economy and improve our state."

After seeing a graduation rate of only 68 percent last year, the Louisiana State Department of Education knew it was time to take action.

"Our goal as the department is to improve the graduation rate to 80% by 2014," says Thibodeaux.

School officials throughout Region V met to discuss ways to better cater to 9th grade students in the area.

"Best practices that have shown that if a student graduates from 9th grade to 10th grade, then they have a better chance of graduating on time with their peers," says Thibodeaux.

One way school officials plan to do this is through the 9th Grade Initiative program.

"It promotes the transition from 8th grade to 9th grade as it makes it a smooth process for the students," says Thibodeaux.

One school in Calcasieu Parish has already implemented this program.

Assistant Principal Margo Hoffpauier says she's seen all kinds of improvements.

"We've done several things," says Hoffpauier. "We've also added a freshman success class that will cover a lot of topics that will help them transition into high school."

Ninth grade students at Iowa high school even have their own hall way.

This keeps them closer to their classrooms and makes it easier on students as they come to high school for the very first time.

"We were trying to create a smaller community," says Hoffpauier. "If they don't feel success early enough, they're going to quit. That's why need to find ways to make them successful when they get here."

The redesign meeting also touched on other specific educational programs.

These programs focused on "Jobs for America's Graduates" and "Participation in Career and Technical Education."

The Louisiana State Department of Education hopes to implement these programs into high schools throughout the state by next school year.

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