The percentage of Columbia students who graduated from public high schools last year is slightly lower than the state average, according to the 2004-2005 School Accountability Report Card released Thursday.
However, the percentage of Columbia graduates who go on to four-year colleges and universities is almost 30 percent higher than the state average, according to figures from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“Our graduation rate is lower because the dropout rate is higher,” said Lynn Barnett, spokeswoman for the district. “That’s been typical for us for years. Of those that graduate, most go to college.”
In order to make it more consistent, the report card was produced for the first time by the state. In the past, districts produced their own. They still collect their own data.
The report, which covers every public school in the state, also stated:
n In the Columbia School District, there is a 249-to-1 student to administrator ratio, while the ratio for the state of Missouri is 207-to-1.
“I did notice we are behind the state on the number of administrators,” Barnett said. She said the district has been criticized for having too many administrators, but the numbers show that it does not have as many as other districts in the state.
n 98.2 percent of classes in the Columbia School District were taught by highly qualified teachers in 2005 compared with 96.4 percent in Missouri, according to data from the report card.
The report states that a “highly qualified teacher is one who: has at least a bachelor’s degree; has demonstrated content expertise by passing a state-approved test or has completed an academic major or coursework equivalent to a major; and who holds full certification for his or her current teaching assignment.”
n Enrollment in the Columbia School District increased to 16,052 in 2005 from 15,982 in 2004. However in Missouri public school districts overall, enrollment decreased to 891,847 in 2005 from 895,965 in 2004.
n The average regular term (base) salary for teachers in the Columbia district was $43,036 in 2005, while the average regular term salary for teachers in Missouri was $39,066 in 2005.
n The dropout rate for the Columbia School District was 4.6 in 2005, while the dropout rate for the state was only 3.8 in 2005. The report states that for grades nine through 12, the rate is determined by “the number of dropouts divided by the total of September enrollment, plus transfers in, minus transfers out, minus dropouts, added to September enrollment, then divided by two.”
“One reason for the higher dropout rate is that we have lower employment and more jobs in Columbia than in other parts of the state,” Barnett said. “This gives kids other options than going to school.
“We have high expectations and not all kids can meet those expectations,” Barnett said. “They may opt to do something else.”