Committed to making a change, Burlington Community Schools working to get graduation rate higher

BURLINGTON, Iowa - Over the past two years the graduation rate in Burlington has been one of the lowest in the state of Iowa.

The district reported a 73% graduation rate in 2015, and a 70% graduation rate in 2016.

"We looked at the high school, and we said to ourselves, we can do better than this and we owe it to our children to do better than this," said Patrick Coen, Superintendent for Burlington Community Schools.

Senior student Dalton Howell said he had to take extra courses in order to graduate this year.

"Actually, unlike everyone else, I was a big concern this year about being able to graduate," said Howell.

Coen said there are many reasons the rate is one of the lowest and the district is working on changing that.

"We're trying to reinforce, be on time, be respectful, turn your work in, you do those three things you`re gonna do well in school, you`re gonna do well in life," said Coen.

The school is committed to making changes to help students.

"No more 8th grade graduation, we`re gonna have a transition ceremony which brings the two middle schools together and establish them as graduating four years out," said Coen.

The district has also started working on a 'Get your 12 initiative' that better informs students about what credits they need to graduate and the school year will also change to trimesters to give students more opportunities to earn credits.

"We`re hammering hard on reducing the F`s, the D`s and F`s," said Coen.

However, the district did improve on the 5 year graduation rate, from 89% in 2015 to 92% in 2016, according to Iowa School Report Card.

For Howell, he's ready to get his diploma.

"I`d actually like to come back here and teach because I just want to be apart of this movement to make things better," said Howell.

To give back to the school that pushed him to graduation day.