More students both graduated and dropped out from Sarasota County Schools last year compared to the previous year, accoridng to data released Nov. 30 by the Florida Department of Education.
The school district's graduation rate bumped up seven percentage points in the 2011-12 school year, giving the public high schools a rate just below 78 percent.
The Sarasota schools percentage is more than three points higher than the state rate of 74.5 percent.
Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White said improving the graduation rate is one of her highest priorities. She said district staff is constantly working to improve instruction, identify students who are not on track to graduate and to provide programs and services to at-risk students.
“We have a lot of work to do to get the graduation rate where we would like it to be,” she said, “but I am very encouraged at the improvement we have seen in the past year.”
The numbers are calcuated with what's called the Federal Uniform Rate, which provides a consistent method for comparing graduation rates among all states and school districts. New federal regulations require each state to calculate a graduation rate which includes standard diplomas but excludes General Equivalency Diplomas (GEDs), both regular and adult, and special diplomas awarded to some students with disabilities who do not meet the requirements for standard diplomas.
The U.S. Department of Education adopted the method of calculating the Federal Uniform Rate to facilitate comparisons of graduation rates across the nation. It replaces the National Governors Association rate used in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and the Florida Graduation Rate used prior to 2010. The Federal Uniform Rate also will be used in Florida’s school accountability system to calculate school grades for high schools.
Sarasota County’s dropout rate for the 2011-12 school year was 2.2 percent, a slight increase over the 2010-11 rate of 1.9 percent. The state dropout rate remained at 1.9 percent.
The graduation rates and the dropout rate are not directly comparable. The graduation rate is calculated by tracking the number of students who start in a school as ninth-graders to the number in the same class who graduate four years later. The dropout rate indicates the number of students who drop out of school in a single year. Students are not counted as dropouts if it can be documented that they have transferred to another school.
2009-10 to 2011-12 Federal Uniform Graduation Rates, Sarasota County High Schools
Graduation rate* 2009-2010
Graduation rate* 2010-2011
North Port High
Pine View School
Sarasota Military Academy
Suncoast Polytechnical High
(first graduating class) 90.1%
Sarasota County School District
State of Florida
* Graduation rates reported are based on the Federal Uniform Rate formula now used by the Florida Department of Education. Rates reported by the state in previous years used a different formula, but for comparison purposes the Federal Uniform Rate is used here for three consecutive school years.