Tri-Cities Graduation Rates on the Rise

Tri-Cities Graduation Rates on the Rise
PASCO -- Days before high school graduation KEPR is taking a closer look at our region's graduation rates. And despite a historically low graduation rate, Pasco's is now up by more than 13 percent in recent years.

"Make sure you get up," says Efrain Cardoza into his phone early in the morning before school. He actually calls some Pasco students every morning to make sure they're getting up and getting to class.

Cardoza is a student achievement specialist; part of an intervention team focused on making sure students aren't falling through the cracks.

They were created after Pasco got its own wake up call in 2005, when the graduation rate was at only 57 percent.

"I'll be honest with you, at the beginning [the students] don't like it but then after a while they start seeing success it's 'oh yea give me a call' or 'I want to go to Saturday school' give me a call on Saturday'," says Cardoza.

Once the intervention teams started, the graduation rate jumped.
The most current numbers for the last five years show Pasco had the biggest increase for graduation rate in the Tri-Cities. Students seem to be responding to the individual attention, including one who recently had a baby.

"While she was out on maternity we did home tutoring, we visited her, brought her her homework and brought it back for her," says Charlotte Troxel who is Pasco High Schools Assistant Principal and part of two of the school's intervention teams.

That student will still graduate and plans to go to college.

Of course overcrowding and state budget issues raise questions about whether the intervention teams will stick around.

We asked Pasco's Associate Superintendent Dennis Maguire if there was any concern about the programs continuing, "A concern yes. But we're working to keep them in place because obviously we're seeing a lot of success for our kids," answered Maguire.

The program is actually expanding to middle school hoping to help students early and keep pushing the graduation rate higher.

It's a high priority for those at the district, Charlotte Troxel says;
"When those kids walk across that stage, that's more of a paycheck then you ever get at the end of the month."

Over the past five years, dropout rates are also down in Pasco and Kennewick, but slightly up in Richland.