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GBHS enjoys high graduations rate
Many grads stayed home during COVID

Great Bend High School’s graduation rate in 2021 was 92.5%, surpassing the statewide rate of 88.1%.

Unified School District 428 graduation rates have surpassed the statewide graduation rates for the past two years, Assistant Superintendent John Popp said. 

The 2022 figures had not been calculated when he gave this report earlier this month, but Popp noted, “it’s the highest it’s been in years. That’s a very monumental achievement by our entire district.”

The graduation rate in 2014 was only 76.3%, but Popp said that was “an anomaly.” After that, it moved above 80% and has continued to improve for most years.

“For the high school, they’ve had some concerted efforts to push those kids who were on the border, maybe (in danger of) not graduating,” he said. “That’s been a big change in the focus on helping them get across the stage on graduation day.”

The state’s graduation rate has also gone up over the years. “But our rate of improvement has exceeded theirs substantially.”

The numbers are based on the number of students who started here as freshmen and completed high school at the end of four years, including summer school if needed. Transfers to another school do not count against the district, but dropouts do.

Minority groups also show improved graduation rates. In 2021, 100% of the African-American students and 95.7% of the Hispanic students graduated, up from 66.7% and 90.7%, respectively, in 2020. The graduation rate for White students was 91.4%, down from 92.3%.

Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches posted a 90.5% graduation rate in 2021, compared to 88.7% in 2020. English Language Learners were at 94.6%, up from 92.4%.

There were decreases in the graduation rates for migrant students – 87% in 2021 compared to 100% in 2020 – and students with disabilities – 87.1%, down from 91.9%.

Withdrawal Data

For the 2021-2022 school year, seven males and seven females, ranging in age from 15-19, dropped out of school.

The numbers vary over the year but have been at 15 or fewer students since 2018-2019. That is about half of the number of dropouts in 2017-2018 (10 females and 18 males) and close to one-third of the number in 2016-2017 (11 females and 32 males).

Postsecondary effectiveness

Kansas now charts students’ continued education after graduation. This was part of the Kansas State Department of Education’s “Kansans Can” initiative. The “postsecondary success rate” is the percentage of students who enrolled in continuing education in both the first and second year following high school graduation. The “effectiveness rate” is obtained by multiplying the two together.

The effectiveness rate is a KSDE benchmark to help school districts judge their comparative effectiveness in enrolling their students in postsecondary education for two continuous years after graduation, or in getting students certified in an industry-recognized skill.

The KSDE’s goal is to reach a statewide graduation rate of 95% and an effectiveness rate of 70-75%.

For USD 428 in 2019, the five-year graduation average was 83%, the five-year success average was 52% and the five-year effectiveness average was 43%.

“The goal is not 100%,” Popp said. “We know there are a whole lot of kids who are very successful just going on into the family farm or military service. They may be very successful people but they haven’t continued in the postsecondary type of way.”

With a 43% rate, Great Bend exceeded the state’s prediction, based on demographics, of 35.5-40.1%. “That’s great,” Popp said. “Again, we don’t know what the 2020 numbers are, because we’re still finishing up those students who graduated just a little over a year ago.”

After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of recent high school graduates took a semester or year off from college or other postsecondary education, Popp said.

“COVID really did a number on a lot of these kids, not going back to their second year of college.” The trend was statewide, not just in USD 428. “If you look at that data across the state, it’s not overly worrisome, but it is something that is definitely of note.”