Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Thompson sees improving graduation rates, exceed state averages

By: Dan Karpiel | The Surveyor | February 01, 2021 | Education

At the regular meeting of the Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education last Wednesday, the board got some good news regarding graduation rates across the district.

Theo Robison, TSD Director of Secondary Education, presented the board with the latest data on graduation rates, showing the TSD both exceeds the state averages and have seen a general upward trend over the last three years.

“As a district, we have made a concerted effort to increase the district high school graduation rate and to reduce our dropout rate. Over the past three years, we have seen gains in the district graduation rate and we have seen some gains in closing the graduation gap between student groups within TSD,” Robison’s report concluded.

District-wide, the TSD had a graduation rate of 82.5% in the 2019-20 school year, above the state average of 81.9%. The trendlines for both the TSD and the state have also been positive, with the state rate increasing from 80.7% in the 2017-18 year and in the TSD from 80.0% three years ago.

Berthoud High School (BHS) enjoyed the highest graduation rates among the district’s four “comprehensive” public high schools, exceeding Loveland, Mountain View and Thompson Valley high schools. BHS enjoyed a 93.9% graduation rate in the 2019-20 school year, exceeding Loveland (80.3%), Mountain View (82.7%) and Thompson Valley (84.3%).

Graduation rates district-wide also trending upwards when broken down by student groups, which separate data based upon economically disadvantaged, homeless, Title 1 eligible, students with disabilities and limited English language proficient. The rate for gifted and talented students, however, decreased from 97.7% to 93.4%.

There was also a general increase in the rate when broken down by race as graduation rates for white (83.2% to 84.9%), Hispanic/Latino (63.4% to 73.7%), American Indian/Alaskan Native (57.1% to 60.0%), black/African-American (81.8% to 90%) and students of two or more races (66.7% to 78.8%) all increased over the three-year span. Graduation rates for Asian students (95.8% to 90.9%), however, declined.

Females continue to graduate at a higher rate than male students, however, a trend not specific to the TSD or Colorado but seen nation-side. District-wide, 87.8% of females graduated compared to just 77.2% of males; the male rate has declined from 77.7% three years ago. Berthoud school board representative Stu Boyd questioned Robinson as to the reasoning for the disparity to which Robinson offered an explanation that male students typically tend to be “less compliant learners” than their female counterparts and the district has been and will continue to work at decreasing the gender gap by providing more “voice, choice and agency” for male students.

Robison said a potential remedy would be to, “provide students more opportunities to really choose how they learn the material we are presenting to them and the other part specifically is more outreach into building stronger relationships with (male) students.”

The board also listened to a presentation from TSD Chief Operations Officer Todd Piccone regarding some potential school closures in Loveland. The proposals, which would not have any effect on Berthoud, center around closing Monroe and Mary Blair Elementary schools in central and northern Loveland, respectively, due to a decade-long trend of the declining student population in the geographic areas the two schools serve.

The proposal, to which the board gave a green light for district staff to continuee examining and seek public feedback, would be the close the two elementary schools and convert Conrad Ball Middle School, also in north-central Loveland, to a K-8 school to absorb students who would otherwise attend one of the two elementary schools. The upper-end estimate of the cost would be about $18 million, less than half the cost of building a new school, and funds could be appropriated from a variety of sources including bond contingency fund and the state’s Building Excellent Schools Today grant.

The next meeting of the Thompson school board will take place on Feb. 3.

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