On January 7, 2021, the Florida Department of Education released official 2020 graduation rates. The Putnam County School District’s graduation rate is 90.1%, and for the first time since the early 2000’s has exceeded the State graduation rate.
Achieving the target of 90% is the culmination of a five year graduation initiative that has led to a 35.2 percentage point increase since 2015 when the rate was 54.9%. When the initiative began five years ago, Putnam County was ranked 66th out of the 67 county districts in the State of Florida. With the latest release of the 2020 graduation rates, the district is now ranked 34th.
Graduation Rate Rankings of Florida Districts
Putnam County’s District Rank
34th of 67
37th of 67
41st of 67
56th of 67
66th of 67
66th of 67
The Putnam County School District’s most recent graduation rate increase of 3.8 percentage points means the district has met the community’s 2020 target of 90%. The school district had originally set a target of 80% for the 2020 school year, but adjusted it to 90% after community organizations requested in 2018 that the district aim higher. According to Superintendent Rick Surrency, “The improvement of graduation rates demonstrates one way our district has worked to fulfill the community’s requests. Our school district positively impacts the whole community when more students graduate with a high school diploma.”
Jonathan Hinke, Director of School Improvement, was part of the team that developed the graduation initiative during the 2015-16 school year. “What our schools have achieved in five years is proof that our students will rise to meet higher expectations when we expect more and provide systems to support them,” stated Hinke. “The Putnam County School District has the potential to be a shining example of educational excellence in rural Florida.”
The district’s graduation rate increase is a result of setting high expectations for all students to graduate high school on time. School leaders have been striving to close the graduation rate gap by meeting or exceeding the State average with subgroups of students. For the third year in a row, the graduation rate of English Language Learners has exceeded the State average. The graduation rate for Black/African American students has exceeded the State average for two years with an all time high of 87.3%. This year, students in the White subgroup bested the State average for the first time.
While Interlachen High and Q. I. Roberts Jr./Sr. High have the highest graduation rates in the district, Crescent City High has shown the most improvement over five years. The school’s graduation rate in 2015 was 51.1% and is now 93.9%, an increase of 42.8 percentage points. Crescent City High School Principal, Dr. John Shelby, could not be more proud of this achievement. “We are proud of the increased graduation rate at Crescent City High School over the last five years. Our teachers embrace the individual support students need to achieve their goal to graduate high school. Our students, faculty, staff, and families have bought into our Vision to empower our learning community for opportunities after graduation,” stated Shelby. “The students now see themselves as high school graduates before their senior year and look beyond that milestone to prepare themselves for a successful life.” The graduation rate for Palatka High has increased 31.3 percentage points since 2015.
Individual School Graduation Rates
Crescent City High School
Interlachen High School
Palatka High School
Q. I. Roberts Jr./Sr. High School
“Our school principals have demonstrated outstanding leadership over the past five years in helping the district achieve our 90% target,” stated Surrency. “Since 2015, Putnam County has improved our graduation rates more than any other district in the State. This accomplishment is because great teachers and leaders support our students.”