Marshall County Looks to Improve High School Graduation Rates

Although the Marshall County School district’s graduation rate is above the state average of 79.3 percent, school officials hope to improve their numbers even more.

The county has adopted several drop-out prevention programs to help improve the county’s graduation rate, which has hovered around 85 percent in recent years. As these new programs develop, officials hope to raise the rate to 95 percent of students graduating in four years.

According to Marshall County Assistant Superintendent Corey Murphy, the county’s new GED Option Program implemented this year has been one of the district’s best avenues to reach students who drop out of school because they struggle only in certain subjects.

In the GED program, high school students who have trouble in a certain subject can take that same portion of the GED test. If they pass, they no longer have to take classes in that subject area and can still graduate with a high school diploma.

“Let’s say a kid is struggling in English and that’s going to be the reason that kid doesn’t graduate,” Marshall County Curriculum Director Woody Yoder said. “He gets in that program and if he can pass just one test, he doesn’t have to take English anymore. This program has been huge.”

The program has been particularly beneficial to students in the district’s Career and Technical Education program, Murphy added.

“You have some kids that are great with their hands, but they’re frustrated out of their minds, because they’re not good in math or not good at writing English papers,” Murphy said. “This kind of gives them a meal ticket.”

School officials are also developing a new program to help middle school students plan out their path to graduation. According to Yoder, all eighth grade students in the county will fill out a Personalized Education Plan with the help of their school counselor detailing what career cluster they want to pursue and what classes they plan to take all four years of high school.

Yoder said the PEP will help students recognize the importance of passing certain classes to reach an ultimate goal.

The county also uses several other programs, including credit recovery, Northern Middle College Early Entrance High School at West Virginia Northern Community College and Saturday school to address a wide variety of reasons students may drop out.

Murphy estimated about 20 percent of students at John Marshall and Cameron high schools are participating in a drop-out prevention program.

“We’re creating a complete web of programs so students don’t fall through and get stranded,” Murphy said. “It’s about applying different methods with different kids. Education today is not a blanket solution anymore.”

However, Murphy said the biggest reason students drop out of school is they do not have the proper support at home.

“I think our biggest issue is student apathy when someone at home doesn’t see the value of an education,” he said. “Students succeed when the community and parents value education.”