Central’s graduation rate climbs amidst struggles of virtual learning

Cindy Rojas, Staff Writer

Graduation is the time for which every high school student waits. It is the culmination of years of hard work and a passage into the adult world. For 95 percent of Central’s seniors last year, their persistence paid off and found a diploma with their name on it.  Twenty-one other schools in the district also saw a graduation rate of 90 percent or higher.  It is interesting to note, however, that Central actually surpassed the district’s average of seeing 91 percent of seniors graduate.  

Last year, as schools began closing during the month of March due to Covid-19, students and staff did not know what to expect for the rest of the year. Surprisingly enough, through these uncertainties, the graduation rate for Palm Beach County’s District operated schools has significantly risen.  According to the Florida Department of Education, the collective Class of 2020 had reached a graduation rate of 94.4 percent. 

“Well, my thoughts on the graduation rate being high is that it actually pretty good news because that means students are passing,” mentioned senior Maria Sarmiento, “What I think contributes to that is not just students being more serious about school, but that we are online and we have more access to answers and more help.”

This 94 percent is a slight increase from 2019 for Palm Beach County’s high schools (91.6 percent) but a significant increase over the state’s number (86.9).  The increase, however, raised the question as to why the numbers went up.  According to  Principal Edgecomb, 2020’s percentage was due to not requiring students to take and pass their end of course exams (EOC) because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As classes were held face to face and virtually at the beginning of this year, the District brought back exams such as AICE, AP, FSA, EOC, and the PSAT, the FSA and the EOCs, however, do not count towards graduation this year.   Despite only using the AICE, AP, and the PSAT exams for graduation or placement for next year, the District also decided to suspend semester exams.  For students, this means that even if they miss more than 10 percent of the quarter’s class meetings, they do not have to take and pass a final to get credit for the course.  They just have to pass the course itself.

Students, however, have other opinions regarding the possibility of why graduation has reached a high standard, these ranging from virtual learning to how Palm Beach Central focuses on its students. 

“The graduation rate of 95 percent can be considered both a good and bad thing,” said senior Helian Mojica. “I personally would not want to know that I spent thirteen years of my life and not be able to receive my diploma, but that is not what everyone goes by. Some people need time that school takes up to work for their families. The good thing is that the percentage of those kids are about 5 percent and the other 95 percent are doing very well because of how Palm Beach Central pushes their students to do well.”

After facing an unprecedented year of hybrid classes, a pandemic, and technology challenges, Dr. Donald Fennoy, the District’s superintendent, remains focused on student achievement.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our students, teachers, and school administrators,” said Fennoy in a recent press conference. “Our challenge now, in this time of COVID, is maintaining this level of success. As a District, we will continue to work in the best interest of our students and make up for any lost ground to elevate our future graduating classes.”

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