By Debbie Burt Myers
Neshoba Central High School’s Class of 2022 made history once again by attaining a graduation rate of 92.9 percent. The graduation rate was higher than the state average of 88.9 percent.
Neshoba Central’s 2022 graduating class had a total of $7.9 million in scholarship offers, one of the highest amounts seen at Neshoba Central.
Previously, Neshoba Central’s Class of 2021 ranked highest with an 89.02 percent graduation rate.
The 2022 senior class had a dropout rate of 5.8 percent while the Class of 2021’s dropout rate was 9.3 percent.
The statewide graduation rates, released by the Mississippi Department of Education on Thursday, are based on a four-year cohort, which follows students from their freshman through senior years.
Neshoba County Superintendent of Education Lundy Brantley was extremely pleased to see the graduation rate rise above the 90 percent mark.
“This is a phenomenal accomplishment,” Dr. Brantley said. “Our team has created many opportunities for our students in terms of scheduling and courses that encourage students to graduate.”
Neshoba Central High School Principal Jason Gentry was excited about the school’s continued progress with the graduation rates over the last five years, noting that Neshoba is among some of the top schools in the state.
“It has taken a combined effort from everyone to achieve the 92.9 percent graduation rate that we currently have at NCHS,” he said.
“Once you reach 90 percent, you are among some of the top schools in the state. This graduation rate takes into account when students enter the ninth-grade cohort and it tracks them through the completion of their 12th-grade year.
“Even when students leave NCHS, we must continue to track them to make sure they enroll in other schools in order for students to not count as dropouts at NCHS.”
Administrators and counselors meet monthly to examine the cohort data for each grade to ensure that students do not slip through the cracks, Gentry said.
“We are on track at this moment for our future graduation rates to continue to climb even higher. I am very proud of our staff for the due diligence that is placed in making sure our students leave Neshoba Central with a high school diploma and other certifications that enable them to be productive citizens in our community, state and nation,” he said.
Neshoba Central High School counselors Rebecca Hayman and Madison Edwards started meeting with each senior, individually, to discuss their career pathways after classes began in August 2021.
“Once we received that data, we along with the administration and Dr. Brantley met every month to strategically target those who had withdrawn, those who were not attending school and those seniors who were at risk of dropping out,” Hayman said.
“With a graduation rate of 92.9 percent, these tactics definitely were a success to the Neshoba County School District.”
"Our school's graduation rate is discussed daily,” she said. “Our administration team has met monthly about specific kids and Mrs. Hayman and I have made it a priority to meet individually with each of our students to better plan and map out their future. We are hopeful that this number continues to rise."
The Neshoba Central High School Class of 2020’s graduation rate was 81.4 percent, with a dropout rate of 14.8 percent. The Class of 2019’s graduation rate was 85.8 percent with a dropout rate of 10.3. The rates for the two prior classes were 84.2 percent and 14 percent and 85.5 percent and 8.8 percent.
MDE’s latest statewide figures mark a continuing positive trend for Mississippi’s students. The statewide graduation rate was 74.5 percent in 2014 and has increased annually. The statewide dropout has decreased from 13.9 percent in 2014.
The current dropout rate figures reflect a .5 percent increase from 2020-21 and a .9 percent increase among students with disabilities. The graduation rate does not include students who earn a GED or a certificate of completion or who are still enrolled in their fifth year of high school.
There were fewer students in those categories in 2021-22 than the previous year, which attributed to the increased dropout rate.
Mississippi’s graduation rate exceeds the latest U.S. rate of 86.5 percent from 2019-20 reported by the National Center for Education Statistics.