MCPS to showcase graduation rate, but wants 100 percent

2012-10-31T06:25:00Z 2012-11-18T05:56:03Z MCPS to showcase graduation rate, but wants 100 percentBy BETSY COHEN of the Missoulian
October 31, 2012 6:25 am  • 

Anyone who cares about the success of Missoula’s public school students is invited to attend an hourlong meeting on Thursday to discuss Graduation Matters Missoula.

If you are going, expect an interactive meeting.

This isn’t a standup event for school administrators to lecture the audience, this is an hour for everyone in the room to discuss, problem solve and offer ideas to help make graduation possible for all Missoula County Public Schools students.

“There is going to be a lot of collaboration and discussion with everyone who shows up and is in the room,” said Alex Apostle, MCPS superintendent.

“We will talk about the direction and the goals we have set for this year,” Apostle said. “And basically, we are moving toward a 100 percent graduation rate.”

If this sounds like hyperbole, consider this: MCPS currently has the lowest dropout rate of all AA districts in Montana.

“When we get our results from the state, we will be closing in on a 90 percent graduation rate – or close to it – which is a monumental point,” Apostle said. “When I came here in 2008, it was under 80 percent.”

The other point Apostle is pleased to make: MCPS’ current dropout rate is at 2.58 percent. In 2009, it was 4.68 percent.

“That’s something we are very proud of, and I credit our teachers, our classified staff and our community for these successes,” he said.


Created by Apostle and a group of Missoula community members and organizations, Graduation Matters Missoula was launched in 2010 as a collaboration between MCPS and the Missoula community.

The goal: to create a school district that achieves 100 percent graduation.

Two years later, with the help of the greater Missoula community and MCPS teachers, staff, students and their families, that goal is becoming more of a reality than a vision.

A dedicated community effort and tangible strategies have made the success possible, Apostle said.

Among the things that have worked to increase school participation and graduation is a finely tuned attendance policy that helps to more readily identify students in crisis.

The district also employs the use of the Aventa Credit Recovery program, which allows students to recover lost credits through an online program with the assistance of a real MCPS teacher.

More robust recordkeeping and follow-up with dropouts is also helping to keep students in classrooms, Apostle said.

The good work will only continue with ongoing community support and involvement, said Mark Thane, MCPS executive regional director.

To that end, the Thursday meeting is arranged far differently than past meetings.

“We are going to have four stations set up, and as people come in the door we will ask them to go to a station, where they will listen to a brief presentation, followed by discussion,” Thane said. “We will have time for feedback and we will share some of the data we have and that we collect.”

The meeting will both celebrate the successes of Graduation Matters Missoula to date and be a time to identify the program’s next steps.

“We still have work to do,” Thane said. “And we are looking for continued dialogue with the community to help us establish priorities.

“Certainly there will be good ideas to be gleaned by people in the community – those who are most affected by dropouts and graduation rates.”

Reporter Betsy Cohen can be reached at 523-5253 or at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. Sherman
    Report Abuse
    Sherman - October 31, 2012 5:57 pm
    I notice Dr. Apostle is always quick to take the credit for anything good, but always is just as quick to blame everyone else if the news is not good. A mile wide and a half inch deep.
  2. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - October 31, 2012 11:45 am
    I don't believe a genuine 100% graduation rate can achieved, except perhaps in an extremely small school. Watering down the standards isn't legitimate - there will always be students who cannot or will not do the required work.
  3. MobyMike
    Report Abuse
    MobyMike - October 31, 2012 11:20 am
    This is great news! Thank you, Dr. Apostle! Your hard work is showing some fantastic results.As a parent of MCPS students, I appreciate all that the schools, teachers and administration is doing. It is obvious that we as a community are lucky to have such a successful school system.
  4. Clark Kent
    Report Abuse
    Clark Kent - October 31, 2012 8:55 am
    Are you familiar with the Common Core State Standards and the new Cohort Graduation Rate schema? If not, you better bring a notebook - you'll need it.
  5. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - October 31, 2012 7:04 am
    Anyone can lie using statistics, just use false statistics. Let us hope that in order to look good, the MCPS does not just lower the standards to graduate. The kids can't handle it, so just make it easier. This is what is done across the nation in the inner cities of all the big cities. And we see the results every day, a kid with a diploma that cannot put two sentences together.
  6. hellgatenights
    Report Abuse
    hellgatenights - October 31, 2012 12:15 am
    Has the 10% graduation increase resulted in any tangible results? Are more kids going to college? Maybe more kids are learning a trade? What are these kids doing and HOW is apostle getting the alleged increase in graduates?

    Has the bar been lowered even further for graduation?

    Any special classes or instructors for the 10%?

    How much extra is being spent to get the 10%?

    Yes......I will go to the meeting and apostle better have his notebook handy
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