LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – There's some good news out for the Jefferson County Public Schools - graduation rates are up. JCPS said the graduation rate for the 2011-2012 school year, which shows a rate of 69.4 percent, is up 1.6 percent from the 2010-2011 school year.
The graduation rate increase is good news for Ken Moeller, the principal of Doss High School.
"The single most important thing is that they are a part of something," said Moeller. "It isn't just going to school for English, math, and science only. It's a part of being something bigger."
The news is a relief for many JCPS officials since the district recently heard some tough words from the Kentucky Education Commissioner that JCPS schools are committing "academic genocide" for having some of the lowest scores and lack of improvement.
Students like Deonte Garner are getting ready for graduation.
"When the teacher builds a connection with you and tells you your potential and everything, that helps you want to do better in that class," said Garner.
"I just gave up after 7th grade," said senior Alyssa Marmillot. "When I came here, I was like okay I need to straighten up or I'm not going into college at all."
JCPS says the percentage of African-American students graduating in four years has also gone up by more than 2.6 percent from the previous year. Both Alyssa and Deonte credit their motivation to their teachers and programs like Ladies of Leadership and Men of Quality that guide them to being better people.
That day when they get that diploma means more than just having a piece of paper.
JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens said there is still a lot of work to do but they are gaining momentum. The JCPS dropout rate has also went down by more than two percent in the last five years.