Canyons District’s graduation rate has been on the upswing for nearly a decade, a trajectory not be undone by the pandemic.
Not only did the Class of 2020 persist in completing the credits they needed to earn their diplomas, despite the statewide closure of schools last spring and subsequent loss of two months of instruction, they achieved the District’s highest graduation rate on record. In nine years, the number of CSD high school seniors to graduate has grown by 9 percentage points to surpass the state average and reach 90.4 percent in 2020.
“This comes as welcome news given the disparities which have been laid bare during the COVID-19 health crisis. Our high school staff, with a focus on graduation and credit recovery, have gone above and beyond their duties to support students during these challenging times. Our educators are rock stars and our students were determined to finish,” said Canyons Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson.
All of Canyons’ high schools have reason to celebrate with two showing the most pronounced growth: Hillcrest and Diamond Ridge. Hillcrest’s graduation rate has grown 13 percentage points in the past four years, and Diamond Ridge jumped nearly 11 percent in just one year to achieve an 80.3 percent graduation rate in 2020.
Diamond Ridge’s double-digit growth is remarkable considering its small size; the non-traditional high school enrolls 50 to 60 seniors a year.
“We are a school of choice for our students. Every student who comes here has chosen to come, and that’s a powerful thing,” said Principal Amy Boettger. “We do a pretty robust orientation and tell our students, ‘We’re accepting you, because we believe in you, which means we expect a lot of you.’”
The school’s “every student succeeds” mindset is exemplified by the hiring of a student advocate whose sole responsibility is to monitor student progress. “We’re pretty relentless about making sure all students are on the path to graduate. If they are missing classes, assignments or credits, we just track them down,” Boettger said.
The school has also embraced a credit recovery model through which students can recapture credit for courses previously taken. “If you have students who attended class pretty regularly, but didn’t earn a passing grade, chances are, they learned some of the key concepts,” Boettger explained. “So we do a pre-assessment to help identify those areas they still need to work on in order to demonstrate mastery for full credit without having to cover old ground.”
Canyons District high schools will continue to invest in bridging any achievement gaps that arise as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis. “The good news is we have success to carry us forward and a solid track record upon which to build,” Sanderson said.