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Vocational students have high grad rate

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 27, 2012 1:50 AM

Wayne County Public Schools' career and technical education students continue to graduate at a higher rate than their peers.

According to the Wayne Education Network's latest "report card" to county residents, the graduation rate for those students is 86.4 percent compared to 74.6 percent for all students.

The career and technical education figure is flat compared to 86.3 percent last year. Statewide the career and technical education graduation rate is 89.6, up from 86.5 percent.

Wayne County is ranked sixth among area schools behind Greene County, 94.2; Sampson County, 92.7; Lenoir County, 90.4; Wake County, 88.8; and Johnston County, 88.

The report card is the latest in a series prepared by the committee that is part of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

The information is based on the 2010-2011 school year and end-of-grade testing.

Career and technical education concentrators are graduates who completed four or more career technical education courses during high school.

The career and technical education program includes agricultural education, business and information technology, career development, family and consumer sciences, health occupations, marketing and trade and industrial.

"Obviously we are pleased at the higher number," said Ed Wilson, committee chairman. "I mean it just shows that kids involved in the technical education courses are more likely to graduate than students who don't.

"This is an uninformed opinion, but kids who typically take those courses have a goal in mind. When they have a goal in mind I think they are more apt to do better in school and all of their course work and graduate because they have a career path that they have figured they want to do."

Student performance in the language arts increased from 47.6 percent to 52.9 percent. Statewide the increase was from 45.2 to 56.6 percent.

Wayne students were fourth when compared to surrounding counties behind Wake, 65.9; Johnston, 62.9; and Wilson, 53.4.

There was a substantial drop in math from 71.9 to 58.4 percent in the county compared to a decline from 78.2 to 63.5 percent statewide.

Wilson attributes the drop to an increase in the federal proficiency benchmarks that students are compared to. In math the benchmark increased from 71 percent last year to 75.7 percent this year.

The federal language arts benchmark increased from 35.2 percent to 52.7 percent.

Local students were seventh compared to area schools. Johnston County was first at 72.1 percent followed by Wake, 71.6; Sampson, 67.8; Wilson, 65.6; Lenoir, 62.4; Pitt, 60.2; and Wayne, 58,4.

Wilson said the numbers "weren't great" with language arts and math, but that he thinks people feel good about the fact that career and technical education students graduate at a much higher rate than other students do.

"These kids are more focused," he said. "They can move onto Wayne Community College and pick up additional courses and further that effort. Everybody is complaining that we are sending them to college and that they need to go to work rather than going on to college. Well, this is the option and they are trying to get more kids involved in occupational training.

"That doesn't mean if you graduate in this area that you can't go to college, you can. It just means you have something that you can move on into whether it is trade or industrial or ag or business and computer technologies or health sciences. I believe it has to be that kids in these tracks happen to be more focused on either going onto work or onto advanced education and they tend to graduate better."