Carson City School District still could be feeling the impact of the pandemic in its graduation rates after seeing a drop from 85.71% in 2021 to 83.43% in 2022, according to early projections.
The preliminary data, once confirmed, would indicate a minor wobbling in the lower to mid-80s in Carson’s seven-year trend, although it remains steady by comparison to Washoe and Clark counties and Nevada statewide in the same period. Nevada’s preliminary graduation rate for 2022 has not been announced but is expected to be released on Nov. 15.
Carson and Pioneer high schools increased their rates year over year, with Carson going up from 88.7% in 2021 to 92.2% in 2022 and Pioneer on the rise from 74.5% to 80%. Tasha Fuson, associate superintendent of educational services, said Carson Adult Education had not yet reported its 2022 rate.
Fuson noted in her report to the Board of Trustees on Nov. 8 the district’s downward rate against the individual programs’ successes, and she said it’s important to celebrate versatile methods at all locations for traditional students and non-graduates.
“We continue to figure out how to be as innovative and nontraditional as we can and still meet the needs of our students,” she said. “The goal is still to make sure they graduate.”
In total, the district reported 433 graduates. Carson High graduated 405 students. There were 41 total non-graduates and 42 adult diplomas awarded. Carson High had 34 non-graduates and awarded 37 adult diplomas, while Pioneer graduated 28 and had seven non-graduates and awarded five adult diplomas. The school district does not receive credit for adult diploma recipients, so it is trying to figure out approaches to bring support for such students, Fuson said.
Trustee Mike Walker said when looking at the data from the start of COVID-19 from March 2020, the impacts on CHS and PHS are obvious, with any progress made over the course of six years nearly lost and the schools slow to recover.
“It’s almost like it took us back to 2016 and we’re starting our climb again,” he said. “I’m hoping next year when we see 2023, we’re just continuing that climb.”
Fuson said one factor from six years ago marks the difference between then and the pandemic of the last two years.
“The difference between 2016 and 2017 was when high school proficiency exams went away,” she said.
She also didn’t want to solely discredit any major academic discrepancies based on the exams because she said that would not be giving credit to the teachers for their work in preparing students for the American College Tests, helping them with Work-Based Learning program needs or college-readiness skills. She said the district overall was on an upward trend until the pandemic hit.
But despite any impacts between 2016 and now, Trustee Joe Cacioppo said Carson City should be proud of maintaining a strong average in its rates, and Fuson said higher expectations are the key, with Carson City requiring 24 credits for standard diplomas while the state standard is 22 and a half. Carson High students graduated with 219 standard diplomas, 59 advanced diplomas and 127 college and career ready diplomas, while Pioneer had 23 standard diplomas and five advanced diplomas.