2011-03-04 / Front Page

Leominster High School receives high marks

STORY BY
TARA CUCCHIARA

A Connect-Ed all call went out two weeks ago announcing some recent results regarding high school graduation rates. Tom Brown, principal of Leominster High, proudly gave some good news via his phone message and emails went out revealing the results published on the Essential Student Achievement Report.

The Leominster High School Community Report released graduation and drop out rates as stated in the February 10, 2011 Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) 2009-2010 report.

The Leominster School Community report states, “Overall, in terms of the 2009-2010 graduation rate, Leominster High School has reached its highest level of success since the state began to track such statistics in 2006: 87.4% of last year’s cohort graduated in four years.” This reflects an almost 5% improvement over the previous year.

Looking at the table in this report to find where Leominster fell in comparison to other schools in our state, there are two comparisons to be made. When comparing Leominster to the Mid-Wachusett league school districts, Leominster falls in the middle of the rankings. However, this comparison is not a true comparison considering that most other schools in this district are smaller and few possess similar socioeconomic demographics of Leominster. However, “when compared to the traditionally identified urban districts from around the state, such a lens indicates that Leominster is outperforming nearly all districts with similar student populations” states the report findings. “In fact, Leominster exceeded the DESEcalculated average urban school graduation rate of 67.2% by over 20 percentage points.”

When focusing on urban school districts in our state, Leominster placed second after Newton, leaving 27 other school districts trailing behind.

Principal Tom Brown attributes higher graduation rates to several key factors: “the high school is doing a better job keeping students in school while helping them achieve at better length.”

Alternative day and online programs, in addition to GED programs, have helped more students attain a diploma. The extra help and support from administration, teachers, and social workers have been instrumental in helping students be successful.

Special Education and bilingual students benefit from programs builtin to the curriculum for at risk students.

Title One money is delegated to maintaining a strong literacy program, geared towards freshmen and sophomores. Students who need this extra help will go to literacy support rather than gym class.

“Reading is a number one priority,” says Tom Brown. “If a student is not reading at grade level, they won’t do well in any of their classes, so we need to start at the core.”

There are AP and honors programs to challenge students achieving at a higher level, and like all programs at the high school, these too will continue to grow and improve.

Tom Brown is excited about the ongoing renovations to increase classrooms, update the venting, heating, and sprinkler systems. The high standing on the graduation rate at LHS is more good news, indicating that the school is on the right track.

“If Newton is the only district that’s beating us, I am pretty proud of that,” Mr. Brown concluded before rushing off to complete the next task of his busy day.

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