A reason to celebrate in the Ogden School District

Tuesday , August 22, 2017 - 4:30 AM1 comment


The Ogden School District did something remarkable — it improved its graduation rate by 7 percentage points.

Any district would celebrate a number like that. But it’s especially gratifying for Ogden, which reported Utah’s worst graduation rate in 2016.

Ogden’s graduation rate jumped from 67 percent a year ago to nearly 74 percent in 2017, Superintendent Rich Nye announced at an Aug. 17 board meeting.

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“This really speaks to the dedication of staff and community and this board to improving the lives of students, following them along to make sure they have what it takes to be successful in graduation,” Nye said, reporting the district’s preliminary figures.

All of which is true.

Earlier this year, the board decided it wanted to see a 72 percent graduation rate in 2018, climbing to 88 percent in 2022.

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Remember, that’s starting from 67 percent. If the Ogden School District achieved an 88 percent graduation rate in 2022, that would surpass the state’s 2016 average by 3 percentage points.

That struck Zane Woolstenhune, the district’s business administrator, as “pushing it,” he said in May.

Yet in a single school year, the district clawed its way to 74 percent — and that’s after barely articulating its strategy, which it calls Project Nexus.

In May, assistant superintendent of schools Chad Carpenter described Project Nexus as a new way of organizing administrators and leaders to pursue district goals.

An 88 percent graduation rate in 2022 is a priority. So is a 50 percent literacy rate, an improvement of 16 points over 2016.

Jennifer Zundel, the board’s vice president, said she appreciated the efforts that led to the increase in Ogden’s 2017 graduation rate. But a 10 percent jump isn’t just the result of hard work. Something clicked.

Identifying what worked, what didn’t and why will be crucial to reaching an 88 percent graduation rate within five years.

But now the Ogden School District can build on its success — and its 2022 goal suddenly looks much more attainable.

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