Seymour’s graduation rate increased in 2022, most others in county dropped

The 2022 graduation rates for Hoosier high schools were released Friday by the Indiana Department of Education.

Rates for Indiana’s 2022 high school class remained mostly unchanged compared to the year prior, but certain student groups still lag behind their peers.

Data show 86.61% of Hoosier students in the Class of 2022 reached graduation, according to the IDOE. That’s almost the same as 2021 when the state graduation rate was recorded at 86.69%. In 2020, 87.69% of Hoosier high school seniors earned high school diplomas.

Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said graduating from high school is an important milestone as students transition to their next step, whether that’s employment, enrollment in college or enlistment leading to military service.

“As we seek new and innovative ways to ensure students are best prepared for their future, we must continue to rethink how those four years are structured,” she said. “This includes increasing the number of students having access to a high-value postsecondary credential before graduation, increasing access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities that allow for additional skill development, as well as providing flexibility for high schools, allowing them to focus on strategic, rigorous coursework that is purposeful for each student’s unique path.”

In Jackson County, the largest high school, Seymour High School, had 303 of 353 seniors or 85.84% graduate in 2022, up more than 10% from 2021 when 294 out of 394 or 74.62% graduated. In 2020, 347 of 379 seniors or 91.56% graduated.

“Last year, our graduation rate was lower than expected because we were one of the high schools chosen to be audited by the state,” SHS Principal Greg Prange said. “The IDOE chooses 25% of all schools each year for this audit. Our audit was negatively affected by a higher number of students who did not come to school for various reasons. While some turned 18 and would rather work (dropouts), most stopped coming because they moved without any explanation and we can’t find them.”

Prange said there is a process schools must follow to remove these students from their roster, or cohort.

“This process involves reporting students to the Indiana State Police Clearinghouse for Missing Children and mailing a certified letter to the last address we have for the student,” he said. “From there, delivery of the letter and the return documentation of that letter is very involved, confusing and involves many parts that don’t always work in unison.

“This process is done many times throughout the year. The documentation that we receive is not always what the IDOE demands to remove the student from the cohort. In other words, we do everything we are supposed to do, but once we mail the letter and report the child, the outcome is no longer under our control.”

Prange also said special education students who complete their requirements listed in their individualized education plan and earn a certificate of completion are not counted as graduates.

“In terms of graduation rate, this is no different from a dropout,”’ he said. “I believe that this treatment is unfair and very unfortunate. I wish that this travesty would be addressed by state and/or federal level.

“We will continue to work with the ever-changing rules that are passed down on us,” he said. “Our counselors and teachers work hard with students and families to prepare graduation pathways and programs that will lead to high school graduation, future education and future employment.”

He said Seymour’s expanding manufacturing, agriculture, welding and construction programs will provide broadened opportunities for students to learn and grow.

“I am very appreciative of all of the support and interest that has been shown and given to us by the community, civic organizations and our local school board,” Prange said. “We are excited that our expansion and renovation project is well underway and look forward to providing more and more opportunities for our students and our community in the coming years. Providing this additional avenues for graduation should help our graduation rate moving forward.”

The biggest decline at a county high school was reported at Crothersville High School, where just 20 of 29 seniors or 68.97% graduated in 2022 compared to 2021 when 87.88% graduated. In 2020, 92.86% of the seniors received diplomas.

“Without question, the learning loss, days out from students and staff have had a negative effect on learning, school interest, retention of students and staff, etc.,” CHS Principal Doug Ballinger said. “The negative effects of lost learning from attendance of staff and students will haunt schools for years.”

In hopes of increasing the graduation rate, Ballinger said Crothersville has added financial literacy, family and consumer sciences, art, industrial technology and animal science courses. Art classes include drawing, painting, sculpting, 3D art, photography, advanced 2D art and advanced 3D art, and industrial technology classes include manufacturing and maintenance.

Plus, the School Safety Academy allows Crothersville students to receive 16 to 23 certificates, including CPR, AED, Stop the Bleed, babysitting basics and more.

The graduation rate fell at Medora High School, where eight of 10 seniors or 80% graduated in 2022 compared to 2021 when 10 of 11 or 90.91% graduated. The Medora graduation rate for 2020 was not reported because the class had less than 10 graduates.

The graduation rate at Brownstown Central High School also decreased from 89.74% in 2021 to 83.56% (122 out of 146) in 2022. The 2020 graduation rate at Brownstown Central was 88.31%.

Trinity Lutheran High School’s graduation rate fell from 97.06% (33 out of 34) in 2021 to 95.05% (44 out of 46) in 2022. In 2020, 100% of Trinity’s 27 seniors graduated.

Sandy Creek Christian Academy’s graduation rate was not available because the Seymour school has less than 10 graduates a year.

A Brownstown Central High School Class of 2022 graduate rides through Main Street in Brownstown after the school’s commencement ceremony on May 28, 2022.

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Crothersville High School senior Karley Gillis smiles as she walks up to receive her diploma during graduation on May 20, 2022, in the school gymnasium.

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Students file into the gym prior to graduation May 28, 2022, at Trinity Lutheran High School.

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Crothersville High School senior Cody Hall gestures to a supporter as he walks into the gymnasium for the May 20, 2022, graduation.

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The Brownstown Central High School Class of 2022 files into the school’s gymnasium for commencement on May 28, 2022.

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The Sandy Creek Christian Academy Class of 2022 poses for photos after receiving their diplomas on May 14, 2022, during the school’s 40th annual commencement.

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Medora High School graduates Alyssa Caudill and Abigail Johnson march together during the recessional at the end of the school’s 126th commencement on May 27, 2022, in the gymnasium.

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Seymour High School Class of 2022 Valedictorian Eli Wood delivers a speech during graduation on June 5, 2022, in the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

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Several graduates sang and played in the band during graduation at Trinity Lutheran High School on May 28, 2022.

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Joe Campbell, president of the Medora Community School Corp. board of school trustees, greets graduate Abigail Johnson as she receives her diploma during the school’s 126th commencement on May 27, 2022, in the gymnasium.

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