Carson City School District’s graduation rate continues its downward slide from 83.4% in 2022 to 80.56% in 2023, district officials announced to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
The data, still to be approved by the Nevada Department of Education, typically is approved by Nov. 15 each year and has shown a regression of the 2019-20 cohort of students after COVID-19 impacted learning.
Carson High School’s rate decreased from 92.26% in 2022 to 89.91% this year. Pioneer High School dropped from 80% to 71.15%. While Pioneer’s 9% drop looks dramatic, the school had a smaller cohort with one student representing more percentage points.
Overall, CCSD graduated 460 students, with 423 of those at Carson and 37 at Pioneer. It granted 56 adult diplomas, 29 from Carson and seven from Pioneer. There were 111 non-graduates, 48 from Carson and 15 from Pioneer.
Ricky Medina, director of accountability and assessment, presented the rates. He said one item this year impacting overall calculation in the rates were some changes in the federal formula that considers the number of students in a cohort, or class of students who enroll in a given academic year who receive a standard high school diploma. Medina said each state has different graduation requirements and are subject to audits.
Nevada has offered several types of diploma, including College and Career Readiness, advanced, adjusted, standard and adult.
“After last year, after we submitted our grad rates, the feds did an audit of the state and said they didn’t like the adult diploma being considered a regular diploma,” Medina said. “This year, they’re being treated differently.”
Anyone who earns an adult diploma now at a diploma-granting institution such as Carson or Pioneer is considered a transfer-out for the district and the school does not receive credit for the graduate, he said.
Tasha Fuson, associate superintendent of educational services, said the district has managed the pandemic’s disruptions to learning but said schools and educators felt the pain of recovery from online and hybrid approaches. Enrollment is recuperating, but academic results, such as improvements in graduation rates, have yet to bear fruit, she said.
“Students chose not to do (Advanced Placement) whereas the typical student (before COVID-19) would take three (AP classes),” she said. “I think we’re seeing the whole thing converge. I think it’s just understanding where we’re at.”
Trustee Mike Walker said the thought of some students needing credit recovery to make up for learning loss “shouldn’t surprise us,” saying it’s a nationwide trend.
Fuson said the district looks at every student who drops out and enrolls elsewhere, adding it’s important to offer every possibility to get them to graduation.
“The goal is to make sure we have a plan for every one of them,” Fuson said. “The next step is to go to (Western Nevada College), to go into the world of work right away or go into their fifth year of school and that’s OK. They might need more time to learn a language and it might take six or seven years, but our plan is to make sure we’re getting you to the diploma, whether it’s four years or six years.
“Where we’ve failed is when they’ve dropped out and there’s no plan for them.”
Board President Laurel Crossman said for a cohort that has not experienced a traditional high school experience due to the pandemic, “I’m proud of those kids.”