Last updated: August 14. 2013 4:01PM - 848 Views

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Clinton City and Sampson County schools are doing something right when it comes to graduating students in four years, and both systems and the educators within them are to be commended for all their efforts.

Last week, the state Department of Public Instruction released the most recent graduation rates, with both our public school systems seeing increases in the number of students they have graduating within four years. Sampson County reached a 75 percent overall rate while Clinton City rose to 84.1 percent, 2 percentage points higher than the state’s overall graduation rate.

The increases seem to show a trend for the school systems, whose educators and Boards of Education have worked diligently to implement programs designed to keep students on a progressive graduation track that keeps them in school and has them college and career ready when they turn their tassels.

Both superintendents acknowledge the focus that has been placed on preparing students for graduation and the two men agree that the programs put into place have made a tremendous difference. The recently released rates bear that out.

In Sampson County, a combination of program initiatives have provided the upswing in graduation rates. Over the course of a couple years, the system has provided instructional coaches and student advocates to assist students in whatever they need, all in an effort to keep them in school and focused on graduating within four years.

Clinton City’s work with at-risk students, along with its 22 credit diploma, has made the same type impact as in Sampson.

And, of course, teachers in both systems are keenly focused on innovative practices that keep students engaged and striving for the graduation mark.

Clinton superintendent Stuart Blount put it this way: “The work that our counselors and teachers do every day goes hand-in-hand with it.” He emphasized the belief he shares with his staff that it is up to them to nurture a love of learning, assist at-risk students and help those already performing well to continue growing academically.

With all these efforts, students in both school systems are truly the benefactors.

Sampson superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker captured his school system’s focus best in an article published earlier this week in The Sampson Independent. “It has to be the whole focus for everybody because it’s our job to make sure that kids graduate and are college and career ready. It’s part of our mission statement.”

He’s right on all counts. It is a school system’s obligation to prepare students and to do their part in encouraging them to reach what should be their own goal of graduating and doing so within the allotted four-year period.

That goal also has to be a focus for students’ parents, too. They are the second and most important cog in the wheel of educational success.

The school systems are on the right track, and many parents are showing a greater interest in their child’s education. We aren’t there yet in either respect, but we are getting closer and closer to the mark.

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