McKinney ISD achieved its highest ever graduation rate of 98.2 percent for the class of 2016. (Courtesy of MISD/Photographer: Adam Fish)

Three weeks ago, nearly 1,700 McKinney ISD high school seniors walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and become MISD graduates.

Before they took those steps from the world of adolescence into the world of adulthood, MISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel addressed the audience and remarked that graduation stands as one of his favorite days of the school year—rivaled only by a student’s first day of school. One represents the beginning of the journey, and the other celebrates its completion.

It goes without saying that MISD desires that every child who walks through its doors will experience the satisfaction and joy of that final celebration. As a result of the district’s efforts toward that end, MISD has posted its highest ever graduation rate of 98.2 percent (for the graduating class of 2016. Information about the class of 2017 will be available next summer.)

“I am very pleased with our graduation rate,” McDaniel said. “We won’t be completely satisfied until it’s 100 percent, but 98.2 percent is extremely high.”

Each year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) provides secondary school completion and dropout statistics for all Texas public schools. That information reflects the percentages of students from a class of beginning ninth graders who either graduate, remain enrolled, receive a GED or drop out by the fall semester that follows their anticipated graduation date. The data provide the district with valuable information about on-time graduation rates.

For the class of 2015, the on-time graduation rate for MISD was 96.4 percent. That number should not be understood to mean that 3.6 percent of students dropped out. What it does mean is that, of the 1,680 members of that class, 1,619 of them earned their diploma in four years or less.

Regarding those numbers, MISD Chief Program Evaluation Officer Geoff Sanderson explained, “It is important to note that an additional 36 students, or 2.1 percent, returned to school and continued working toward fulfilling their graduation requirements. And, for eight students, the GED certificate became the chosen pathway. After all of these outcomes are taken into consideration, the percentage of students who dropped out was one percent—or 17 students.”

Each fall, the district uses the previous year’s results to set targets for the upcoming school year, and for the class of 2016, MISD set its graduation target at 97.2 percent.

“Not only did we meet that goal, but at 98.2 percent, we exceeded it by a full percentage point,” Sanderson said. “Because more students from that class graduated on time, we had fewer students who needed to return to school for a fifth year, and that rate decreased to .9 percent. A very small percentage earned GED’s (.1 percent), and the dropout rate decreased to .8 percent—or 14 students.”

McDaniel was quick to emphasize that the process of accountability and tracking student progress is a team effort. He lauded the work of Sanderson at the district level, and he praised the campus-level efforts of administrators, teachers and counselors.

“We have key people in place throughout our district who make it a priority to see that no stone is left unturned in our efforts to help kids succeed and graduate,” McDaniel said. “They do an outstanding job of monitoring students, and our credit recovery teachers provide a pathway to success through the e-High program. They really do a good job."

Sanderson pointed out that ensuring that every high school student earns a diploma within four years is not a “stretch” goal in MISD. “The graduation rate reflects the strength and scope of a school district’s learning continuum,” Sanderson said. “While we celebrate a nearly perfect graduation rate as a traditional high school measure, we also recognize this success as a long time in the making. It begins with our early childhood program and continues through the elementary and middle grade levels,” Sanderson said.

McDaniel and Sanderson would be the first to point out that all of these numbers represent kids—and that MISD will never stop in its mission to ensure that every one of them experiences the satisfaction of completing the journey. With a diploma in hand and equipped for success.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.