Editor's note: This story has been updated.
East Texas school districts are mostly at the state and regional averages for graduation, attendance and dropout rates, though some districts are performing better than state and regional rates.
The Texas Academic Performance Reports from the Texas Education Agency annually pull together a range of information on how students perform in each school and district in Texas. The reports also give information on staff, programs and demographics for each school and district, according to the TEA.
The reports for the 2018-19 school year are now available, with information on 2017-18 graduation, attendance and dropout rates.
Most high schools in the area had graduation rates at or above the state average, which was 90% for four-year graduates in the class of 2018. The four-year rate for districts within the Region 7 Education Service Center was higher at 93.3%.
Both the four-year and five-year graduation rates are listed in the TAPR.
Pine Tree ISD Superintendent Steve Clugston said the four-year rates reflect students who complete high school in the usual four years, while the five-year rates pertain to students who need an extra year to complete credits.
Clugston said he believes the five-year rate is a better representation of graduation rates for districts.
“When we’re really trying to get data on kids that are potential dropouts, quite often those kids, we can get to graduate, but they may not necessarily be on time,” he said. “There’s quite a few that come in and don’t get enough credits and don’t graduate on time, but graduate the next year.”
With a rate of 99%, White Oak High School led the area in graduation rates — also beating the regional and state averages.
Spring Hill High School came in a close second with a 98.2% rate.
Longview High School’s rate was 95.4%, and Pine Tree High School came in at 94.1%.
Other Gregg County schools also remained above the state and regional rates. Kilgore High School had a 95.2% rate, Gladewater 93.7% and Sabine 97.9%.
Hallsville High School was below the regional and state rate at 83.3%.
Hallsville ISD Superintendent Jeff Collum said in a written statement that the high school has a 98.2% graduation rate and the Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville had a 68.4% rate. The rates combined gave the district the 83.3% rate reported by TEA.
"It is amazing that in one year we have added approximately 7,500 students online and that we are now educating over 12,000 students across the great state of Texas," Collum said. "It is equally amazing that our traditional brick-and-mortar students continue to lead the region and state in this area."
The five-year graduation rates were higher for the state and region. The state rate was 92%, while Region 7’s was 94.7%.
Spring Hill High School had the highest five-year rate at 97.4%, and Hallsville High School followed closely behind at 97.1%.
Longview High School’s rate was 96.1%. Pine Tree High School was 94.9%, and White Oak High School was 96.9%.
In other Gregg County schools, Kilgore High School’s rate was 96.8%, and Gladewater High School’s was 94.6%.
Sabine High School was below the state and regional rate at 91.5%.
The state’s dropout rate was 1.9%, and all local schools were below the state rate. Region 7’s rate was 0.9%.
The only local school above the regional rate was Gladewater High School at 1%.
Spring Hill High School posted a 0% dropout rate.
Principal Rusty Robinette said he believes the district’s great students and community contribute to its 0% dropout rate in 2017-18, among other factors.
“We do have a small percentage we have to intentionally work with,” he said. “We believe if a student is engaged in class, they want to come to school. We pride ourselves in making engaging lessons so students want to come to school.”
Two years ago, the schools added a response to intervention coordinator position, Robinette said. Sharlette Kincy works in that job by meeting daily with students who need interventions.
Kincy ensures students are completing their work and meets with their families, Robinette said. The school also has an online learning lab at which students can make up credits they failed at the semester.
White Oak High School also had a 0% dropout rate. The next lowest was Sabine High School at 0.2%.
Longview High School’s rate was 0.6%; Pine Tree High School’s was 0.4%; Hallsville High School’s was 0.3%; and Kilgore High School’s was 0.8%.
Attendance rates for 2017-18 in the area were all within 1 percentage point of each other.
The state’s rate was at 95.4%, and Region 7’s was slightly higher at 95.7%.
Longview ISD’s 96.9% was the area’s highest attendance rate. Spring Hill ISD’s rate was 96.5%; Sabine ISD’s was 96.2%; and Hallsville ISD was right at 96%.
White Oak ISD’s rate was 95.9%; Kilgore ISD was at 95.7%; and Pine Tree ISD’s rate was 95.4%. Gladewater ISD had the lowest rate in the area at 95%.
Clugston said Pine Tree’s attendance target is 96%. He said districts are struggling with attendance rates because about four years ago, the state made some changes in how districts can file truancy.
He said the changes have made it more difficult to file truancy, and districts have seen attendance rates slip.
He also said a bad flu season can have a big impact on attendance.