GHS graduation

Xenia Isaula and Sabre Jackson embrace during the processional of Goshen High School's commencement in this 2016 file photo. In 2019, GHS had the highest graduation rate in the county, according to school administrators.

GOSHEN — It was very welcome news at the Goshen school board meeting Monday night as board members learned that Goshen High School achieved the highest graduation rate of any public high school in Elkhart County for 2019 with a rate of 93.2%.

“Goshen High School has had a long-standing school improvement goal of improving the graduation rate, yet the graduation rate had been difficult to move beyond 88%,” said Steve Hope, assistant superintendent in charge of secondary education for GCS, noting that the school corporation has long been working to break the elusive 90% graduation rate threshold. “Through some careful monitoring and intervening with seniors, Goshen High School has now moved the graduation rate to 93.21%.”

According to Hope, trend data for Goshen High School’s graduation rate from 2016 through 2019 is as follows:

• 2016 – 88.1%

• 2017 – 88.3%

• 2018 – 81.1% (88% actual)

• 2019 – 93.2%

Hope noted that the 2018 graduation rate initially included a clerical error, which created an anomaly in the reported graduation rate percentage that year.

HIGHEST IN COUNTY

As a means of comparison, Hope also provided the 2019 graduation rates for all Elkhart County public high schools, as recently reported by the Indiana Department of Education. They are:

• Goshen – 93.2%

• Fairfield – 92.6%

• Wa-Nee – 92.2%

• Middlebury – 90.5%

• Baugo – 91.6%

• Concord – 89.6%

• Elkhart – 86.7%

“Education is not a competition,” Hope said. “However, if you look at the chart, you will see that Goshen not only broke through the 90 percent, but Goshen has the highest graduation rate in all of Elkhart County.”

Hope attributed that increased graduation rate for Goshen High School in large part to a concerted effort by GHS Principal Barry Younghans and his leadership team, whom he said have done an excellent job of keeping the graduation rate front and center in all their efforts.

“The graduation rate has been a perennial part of Goshen High School’s school improvement plans,” Hope said. “This last year marked a new effort in record keeping with a close watch on all seniors. This careful monitoring and intervening will continue.

“I would like to publicly commend Dr. Younghans and his leadership team for doing just a great job of keeping their eye on the prize,” Hope added. “He starts every single meeting at Goshen High School with graduation rates, because they’re always thinking about it.”

POSITIVE STATS

Moving beyond the graduation rate itself, Hope then pointed to several additional statistics related to the 2019 graduation numbers that he felt also warranted the board’s notice.

“First of all, the Hispanic graduation rate outpaced the graduation rate of the entire graduating class. That rarely happens,” Hope told the board. “Also, the graduation rate for those students who qualify for free and reduced lunch is less than 1 percentage point behind the overall graduation rate. That hardly ever happens. Those are two great pieces of evidence to show that almost every single student in Goshen succeeds and graduates, which means they have more options open to them after graduation.”

Hope did, however, note that graduation rates for students with exceptionalities and students who are English language learners lagged behind the overall graduation rate, adding that these populations will be an area of emphasis moving forward.

TEACHER EFFORT

For his part, Younghans made a point of highlighting the efforts of his teachers and staff at the high school — and throughout the entire school corporation — for playing a major role in the positive graduation numbers announced Monday.

“I don’t think you can overlook the work the teachers do either. The staff at Goshen High School work exceptionally hard at that, and it takes a village. So, all the things that we do from grade K-9 to get them there, and get them ready, is a big deal,” Younghans said. “They’ve got to love school, and they’ve got to come to school. And so, we will continue to work on that. And I guess the last group I’d like to thank is the students. We exist to help them, and so they’re ability to do the work that we put in front of them is pretty important for us. So, we’re pleased with this graduation rate, and we’ll see if we can duplicate it.”

Board president Bradd Weddell offered a similar sentiment.

“I think it’s amazing. It’s something that has been a goal of all of ours for a number of years, and we appreciate the hard work,” Weddell said of the report. “There’s a lot of work ahead of us yet, but we’re showing that we’re tracking the stuff that matters, and we can find ways to achieve what we want. And I think this can trickle down to the other things that we want to achieve in our district. So, we appreciate the leadership and everything each and every one of you do.”

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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