With the Class of 2022, the graduation rate for students in the McDuffie County School System reached its highest level in more than a decade. This year’s 85.84 percent graduation rate represents an increase of 2.58 percent over the class of 2021. It also outpaced this year’s state rate of 84.1 percent, its all-time high.
“We are incredibly pleased to see our graduation rate increase to the highest it has been since the inception of the College and Career Ready Performance Index accountability system in 2012,” said McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mychele Rhodes. “It’s not just the numbers we are proud of, though. This increase represents more students exiting our system, ready to contribute to our community in a positive way. This is also the product of much hard work from our dedicated staff from Pre-K all the way through 12th grade.”
The increases are a result of several initiatives. The first of these is offering high school courses to middle school students in English/language arts, math, science, social studies, health and physical education; and fine arts as well as Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE). The number of students taking high school courses in middle school has more than doubled in the last three years. The opportunity to obtain high school credit early provides students more flexibility in their schedules to pursue dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses at Thomson High School. Dual enrollment segments at Thomson High School have increased from 98 in 2017 to 260 in 2020, while accelerated enrollment rates have increased from 39.18% in 2017 to 84.32% in 2021.
An additional initiative is the expansion of CTAE career pathways, including drafting and design, early childhood education, computer science, cybersecurity, and welding. The district continues to see growth and success with these programs through the increase of students completing pathways, from 29.5 percent in 2012 to 85.3 percent in 2021. The Thomson High School Jumpstart Apprenticeship Program also provides opportunities for students to expand from classroom experiences to work-based learning opportunities throughout the community, building our future workforce here in McDuffie County.
The district has also made a concerted effort to fully support struggling learners with a variety of options. Students unable to complete credits in a traditional manner are able to participate in credit recovery and extended school year options through the McDuffie Achievement Center and Thomson High School via summer and evening school programs. Support periods and specialized instructional classes are also built into every school day. The number of credit recovery courses completed has doubled in the last three years.
“The goal of the McDuffie County School System is to continue to prepare our graduates to succeed in college, careers, and life,” Dr. Rhodes said. “Although the work to adapt to our students’ ever-changing educational needs is never complete, the results we see today are validation that many of the initiatives we have implemented are making a real difference in our student’s lives.”
In addition to overall growth in the graduation rate, all measured subgroups in McDuffie County demonstrated growth from 2021 rates. The subgroup with the largest gain was “students with disabilities,” which saw an increase of 8.62 percent, compared to 2021.