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State Report Shows Big Improvement to Huntsville City Graduation Rates

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The state has released graduation rates for all the high schools in Alabama.  The data can tell you a lot about the directions of schools- if you just know how to read it.

WHNT News 19's David Kumbroch spent the day breaking down those numbers to bring clarity to this report.

According to Kumbroch, Butler had some of the most confusing results.

“This high school is all over the map with graduation rates, solely depending on how you measure it,” said Kumbroch.

Kumbroch asked Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski about recent graduation rates.

"What we're looking for is trends and levels," said Wardynski about the report.

But actually it's how you sort the numbers that makes the biggest difference.  Consider Butler's graduation rate – 44%.  That's second worst in the whole state.

But, compared to the graduation rate of the year before of 31%, in a single year Butler has improved 13%.  That growth rate is in the top 25 in the state out of more than 300 schools.

"Lee saw an increase.  Johnson saw an increase.  Columbia saw an increase.  Those are all positive trends," said Wardynski.

In fact, the numbers show the district increased graduation rates by 11%. That's sixth best in the state.

To keep those numbers growing, the district focuses on total education instead of just the high schools that have to own up to graduation rates.

"Some elementary skills aren't in place, and high schools really aren't set up to help people with those skills.  So bringing in pre-k gives us a little more time, so that by the end of second grade, kids are reading.  If we set them up to read, they're going to be in much better shape down the road," said Wardynski.

Wardynski believes that total approach will keep numbers moving the right direction.

"Based on the trends we're seeing, that 77%, we're going to see a better number next year," said Wardynski.

Wardynski also told me he expects Butler's graduation rate will rise dramatically again in the next year's data, once it is released.

Huntsville City School’s graduation rate breakdown:

Huntsville City – 77%

SR Butler High School – 44%

Columbia High School – 80%

Huntsville High School – 92%

JO Johnson High School – 68%

Lee High School – 68%

Virgil Grissom High School – 88%

New Century Technology Demo High School – 96%

View the breakdown of the entire state here: Graduation Rates