LIVE OAK, Fla. — Years of hard work are paying off for Suwannee County students.

The Suwannee County School District posted a 93.7% graduation rate in 2018-19, the third-highest rate of counties across the state. Lafayette County Schools had a 98.8% graduation rate, while St. Johns County graduated 94.3% of its students.

“We’re very pleased,” Suwannee County Superintendent Ted Roush said. “It’s been a long hard road. If you look back 10-12 years, the district and the state have made good progress.”

Suwannee County Schools were also third in 2017-18 with a 96.2% graduation rate.

The state’s graduation rate increased for the 13th consecutive year, reaching 86.9%. The state’s graduation rate was just 58.8% in 2005-06.

365体育世界杯The graduation rate measures the percentage of students who graduate within four years of their first enrollment in ninth grade. The rate is calculated for an adjusted cohort of students — a group of students on the same schedule to graduate — taking into account those who enter or exit the group.

365体育世界杯Roush said there was some expectation that the district’s rate may take a step back, due to the great rate the previous year.

365体育世界杯Those high scores come after a dedicated effort was put in place 10-15 years ago, Roush said, to provide more programs and opportunities that would interest and entice more students. Those opportunities include RIVEROAK Technical College and programs such as nursing or welding. It also has led to additional dual-enrollment possibilities or other methods for students to earn college credit while in high school.

“It all starts with the classrooms and the programs that you offer,” Roush said. “I feel like there was a strong, strong effort many years ago to offer additional programs to get kids really hooked in, to wanting to come and be in school and stay in school.

“We know it revolves around the academic core, but the fact of the matter is it’s hard to motivate kids day-to-day just around the academic core unless they’ve got something else they’re coming to school for, that they can start working toward.

“We’ve really wanted students to leave, not only with a diploma, but with a specialization with an industrial certification or leaving with college credits.”

365体育世界杯And as good as the district’s graduation rate is, Roush said the work isn’t over. Rather, there is a continued push to provide more reading interventions during students’ educational career in the hopes of leading to more success and even more graduates.

“It’s not rocket science to understand that if students aren’t proficient readers, they tend to struggle in every area of academic challenge that they take on,” he added. “It’s hard to be successful in any of those, if you can’t read.”

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.