The graduation rate in Lake County schools increased in 2019-20, surpassing a goal set by Superintendent Diane Kornegay when she was chosen to lead the district in 2017.
The graduation rate went up 4.4 percentage points to 91.2 percent, according to newly released data from the Florida Department of Education. That’s slightly higher than the statewide rate of 90 percent for that year.
Lake’s graduation rate was 77.8 percent in 2017, when Kornegay said one of her primary goals was to help the district reach and exceed a 90 percent graduation rate. The latest data shows the district has achieved that goal.
All of the district-operated high schools either maintained a rate above 90 percent or saw an increase. The largest increases were at Leesburg High School and Eustis High School, both of which saw increases of more than 7 percentage points. Leesburg High had a 74.7 percent graduation rate in 2018-19 and 82.4 percent in 2019-20, while Eustis High had a 90.9 percent graduation rate in 2018-19 and 98.1 percent in 2019-20.
“Our graduation rates are a testament to the great work that’s happening in our schools,” Kornegay said. “Teachers, staff, administrators and even community members faithfully serve as mentors and cheerleaders for our students, and school teams monitor each student and their progress toward meeting graduation requirements to ensure that they have any needed academic support. Our primary responsibility as a school district is to ensure that every student walks across the graduation stage ready for college and/or a career.”
Lake’s increase is part of a statewide increase that state leaders touted with the release of the data. Florida’s high school graduation rate increased by 3.1 percentage points over the previous year. But Jacob Oliva, Florida’s chancellor of public schools, cautioned in a letter to superintendents that the increases should be understood within the context of the exemptions that were provided in the spring semester to the class of 2020.
Pursuant to Florida Department of Education Emergency Order No. 2020-EO-1, students in the 2019-20 graduating class were exempt from statewide, standardized assessment requirements because of the pandemic. Approximately 7.1 percent of the class of 2020 statewide graduated with this exemption.
“We see this data as a reminder of all your hard work over the past year to guide our students in the wake of unprecedented challenges,” Oliva wrote, “and that we must collectively double down on the support all students receive to ensure their success, especially the critical steps in a student’s education journey such as graduation.”