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Norwood-Norfolk High School principal discusses graduation rates

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NORFOLK — Norwood-Norfolk High School Principal Robin J. Fetter said the school’s graduation numbers are on the rise as it continues to address its 2012 designation by the state Education Department as a focus district and focus school.

In a report to the Board of Education, Mrs. Fetter said the graduation rates for those who entered ninth grade together in 2008 and graduated in 2012 increased overall and for students classified as economically disadvantaged.

However, it decreased for those classified as not disadvantaged.

The so-called cohort class of 2008 included 90 students. Of those, 83.3 percent graduated with a Regents with advanced designation, Regents or local diploma, while 74.3 percent of the 35 students classified as economically disadvantaged and 89.1 percent of the 55 students classified as not economically disadvantaged were part of that graduation group.

The cohort of 2007, those who graduated together in 2011, had 84 students.

Of those, 76.2 percent graduated with a Regents with advanced designation, Regents or local diploma, while 51.4 percent of the 35 students classified as economically disadvantaged and 93.9 percent of the 49 students classified as not economically disadvantaged graduated.

“I’m concerned about the equity in the graduation rates among the economically disadvantaged.

There tends to be a high correction between economically disadvantaged and special education,” Mrs. Fetter said.

Still, she said, “They’re coming back in a very gratifying way to sort of close that gap.”

Norwood-Norfolk was among 70 schools identified by the state in September as a focus school as due to low performance and lack of progress in English language arts and math or graduation rates for accountability groups.

Norwood-Norfolk was identified because of the low graduation rate of economically disadvantaged students in the cohort of 2006: those who entered the ninth grade that year and graduated in 2010.

Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie had said the rate for economically disadvantaged students “was significantly below the state average.”

Fewer than 50 percent of students in that category were graduating, while their peers not so designated were graduating at closer to 80 percent, she said.

“There was a gap in pretty much every school,” Mrs. Fetter said, noting that 2005, 2006 and 2007 were the years “that alarmed us.”

The district took initiatives to improve student performance, including a mentoring program, which has continued, Mrs. Fetter said.

She said teachers who volunteer for the program meet with one to three students each week to help improve their performance, and the results are encouraging. This year’s graduating class consisted of 49 students.

“The graduation rate for this class is very, very good,” Mrs. Fetter said.

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