Eureka! Douglas schools near top in rankings |

Eureka! Douglas schools near top in rankings

The ever-present Jobs Peak towers over Class of 2015 graduation ceremonies at Douglas High School Friday evening.
Brad Coman |

When it comes to high school graduation percentages, Douglas County’s class of 2015 ranks up near the top of the class for the state of Nevada.

Douglas County ranked No. 2 among the state’s 17 counties. Each of its three high schools boasted graduation rates of 90 percent or higher for 2014-15, according to information recently released by the Nevada Department of Education. Looking at the breakdown, George Whittell High at Zephyr Cove graduated 100 percent of its senior class, ASPIRE Academy 92 percent and Douglas High School 90 percent.

Eureka County led the state with a 100 percent graduation rate for 2014-15. Eureka County High School is a combined senior and junior high school with approximately 115 students.

“We’re very proud of our high school staff, of all the students and their families for all the work they’ve done … this is something to celebrate,” Douglas County School District Superintendent Teri White said on Thursday.

Furthermore, the Department of Education report reveals that Douglas County ranked No. 2 in 2013-14 with an 88.12-percent graduation rate, second only to Storey County’s 93.10.

“This really is a tribute to what a great system we have in Douglas County and all the work being done throughout the district,” White added. “The work of the staffs at the younger age levels is what provides a strong foundation for students before they enter high school. It really does take a comprehensive system.”

Marty Swisher, principal at Douglas High, was “ecstatic” with the 90-percent rating for a school of about 1,700 students.

“Our goal as a school has been to reach at least 90 percent graduation rate, and the last two years we’ve done that,” he said. “The bottom line is that, with the competencies we have in the district and the state testing, and then when you look at our ACT and SAT results, I think our students are graduating well prepared to go out into the career and college world and be successful.”

To put the 90 percent figure in perspective, the only other Nevada public high school of comparable size to score higher in 2015 was Coronado in Henderson with a 93.24. At the same time, Swisher preferred to avoid comparisons with other schools.

“To me, it’s not so much about what another district is doing, it’s all about what are we doing to get our kids ready for what they’re going to do after graduation,” Swisher said. “So the fact that our kids are graduating in the numbers and percentages that they are is great, but it’s really about what happens to them after graduation that’s the important thing.”

Swisher paused before he went on to point out that 38 percent of the school’s class of 2014 graduated with an advanced diploma — 24 credits with four years of math, four years of English and three years of science, and a 3.25 grade point average or better. Currently, the minimum number of credits required for graduation in Douglas County is 23 credits and the minimum set by the state is 22-1/2.

“We’re not satisfied. We want a higher graduation rate and where we are now with our advanced diploma, that indicator has gone up significantly in the last three years,” he said. “We want to continue to see students strive for that advanced diploma because that’s a great indicator for college readiness, if they have four years of math, especially, it’s huge.”

One point of interest from Douglas High’s class of 2015 exit survey indicated that 57.68 percent of the seniors planned to attend a four-year college, 24.57 percent planned to attend a two-year college and 8.53 percent considered the military as an option.

White explained, however, that exact numbers on where graduates end up are difficult to obtain. There is data to follow students who go to college in Nevada that can be tracked. But the district must rely on students to self-report when they leave the state to go to college.

Regardless of statistics, White emphasized the significance of a team effort that starts at home.

“Family support is so important to education,” she said. “And we’re very fortunate to have families living in this community that are supportive and good partners with our schools.”