Out of 14 high schools in Gloucester County, West Deptford falls close to the bottom for the Class of 2012’s graduation rate, state data shows.
West Deptford had an 84.86 percent graduation rate for 2012, putting it 10th in the county, whose high schools ranged from graduation rates of 96.3 percent (Gloucester County Institute of Technology) to 72.07 percent (Paulsboro High School).
Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman called the numbers “a concern” and unusually high, but also wants residents to understand how the graduation rate is calculated.
West Deptford’s graduation rate is down in recent years, and part of that decrease comes from a new state formula. The formula provides a clearer picture of New Jersey’s graduation rate overall, but can ding individual districts for actions beyond their control.
The old formula was a simpler, self-reported calculation of the number of students in the senior class compared to the number receiving diplomas. It left room for districts to fudge the numbers and didn’t account for student mobility.
New Jersey agreed to switch to a new formula, meant to provide uniformity nationwide on data, that uses an "adjusted cohort graduation rate."
Under the new formula, students are tracked when they enter high school in ninth grade, even if they leave the district. School districts must monitor students who transfer out and whether they graduate, which impacts West Deptford’s results. Students who don’t complete high school in four years are also counted against the rate.
“School districts have had to come to grips with seniors who move to three or four school districts and then come knocking on your doorstep senior year, and they find out that they are short credits or behind, then that's going to count against you,” Kitchenman explained.
The changing formula had an immediate impact on West Deptford’s graduation rate, state data shows. Similarly, many districts in New Jersey saw a decline under the new formula, as did the statewide graduation rate. With the old formula, New Jersey had a 94.7 graduation rate in 2010; the next year, under the new formula, it was 83 percent.
But the new formula isn’t entirely to blame for West Deptford’s lower graduation rate. West Deptford’s graduation rate fell from 89.29 percent in 2011 to 84.86 percent this past school year. The new formula also applies to 2011 data.
WDHS graduation rate
Class of 2009
Class of 2010
Class of 2011
Class of 2012
Fourteen West Deptford students dropped out in 2012, the superintendent said.
“We had an unusual number of students, mostly for personal reasons and against our counseling programs, decided to drop out,” Kitchenman said.
The Class of 2013 has four dropouts so far.
West Deptford does have an in-house alternative high school, and Kitchenman believes it helps lower the dropout rate. Some students in the program are there with the goal to move them back into the traditional high school.
Students in New Jersey can opt to drop out of school at age 18 without parental consent. Parents can allow their children to drop out at ages 16 and 17; students 15 and younger must attend school.
Gloucester County Class of 2012 graduation rate:
Change from ’11
Gloucester County Institute of Technology
Clearview Regional High School
Kingsway Regional High School
Washington Township High School
Delsea Regional High School
Pitman High School
Woodbury Jr./Sr. High School
Glassboro High School
Gateway Regional High School
West Deptford High School
Williamstown High School (Monroe)
Deptford Township High School
Clayton High School
Paulsboro High School
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