Morton top in grad rates

Adam Larck TimesNewspapers

Morton High School has come out on top in a recent analysis of 40 west-central Illinois high schools in the GateHouse coverage area when it comes to graduation rates.

Last year, out of the 242 seniors that were eligible for graduation, only two failed due to a lack of credits.

This trend is the same for at least the past four years. MHS has maintained a strong graduation rate which Principal Marjorie Johnson attributes to the “expectations of the families of our students.

“Morton has a rich tradition of excellence and parents expect their children to do their best,” she said. “In addition, we have a variety of supports in place to help students who struggle. Besides having a great trio of guidance counselors, we contract with a local external agency to provide additional counseling services for students and their families two days per week. We also have a social worker on staff.”

Superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall echoed Johnson’s sentiments.

“Our graduation rate is amazing, something to be proud of and in the most general sense, it is due to the fact that our families and community place the highest value on education and supporting the Morton schools,” Hall said.

“This message is sent to our students every day also through our dedicated, professional teaching and support staff.”

Johnson added that, while the teachers also set high expectations in class, they also help provide extra study sessions before and after school for students to attend if extra help is needed.

“In addition, we have a peer tutoring program that can match a student who needs help in a specific subject with a student who has expertise in that area,” she said.

Johnson did note that there is a difference between the percentage of seniors who did not graduate compared to the total class and the overall graduation rate reported on the school report card each year. The four-year rate for the school report card came in at 93.3 percent, still well above the 82.3 percent reported by the state.

“I think the low number of non-graduates is a product of the supports we have in place to help our students,” Johnson said. “We maintain high standards and help our students reach them, without enabling them or lowering our expectations.”

For the students who do struggle in school and fail to graduate, the school still helps to prepare them for life after school.

“The counseling department has the knowledge to point them in the right direction and offer assistance to get them into a GED preparation program,” Johnson said. “For those who choose an alternative path to secondary school, the counselors have information on some online programs that may be available to the student.”

Looking ahead, Johnson said the staff will continue to try and find ways to improve the graduation rate each year.

As part of our School Improvement Plan, we will be evaluating data we’ve received from a variety of inputs to see what additional supports may be necessary to help our students,” she said. “Of course, it’s our goal to see 100 percent graduation rates in the future and we will continue to work towards that … one struggling student at a time.”