Ferndale, WA. In 2018, 85.7 percent of high school seniors graduated on-time. That is a number is the highest graduation rate on record for Ferndale followed most closely by the 80.4 percent rate in 2017.
It's also a number that may catch some by surprise. Beginning with the graduating class of 2011 the State of Washington began using the new adjusted cohort method for calculating graduation rate. This new methodology meant a rude awakening for school districts across the state – including Ferndale. Schools that had previously reported 80 percent graduation rates were looking at rates in the 60 percent range under the new reporting requirements.
Ferndale High School's 2013 on-time graduation rate was 68.7 percent. In the 2017, 80.4 percent of the Ferndale High School senior class graduated on time. The 2018 rate of 85.7 percent means that the graduation rate rose 17 percentage points since 2013!
The increase is not an accident. The District has been intentional about engaging the community to build a culture of graduation starting in Kindergarten. According to Ferndale School District Assistant Superintendent Scott Brittain, "Graduation is not a date in June. That's Commencement. Graduation is a process that begins when students enter school. It's a process that takes all of us along the way."
Getting kids ready to graduate starts in elementary school and continues to middle school where the message is reinforced by every teacher, counselor and school principal along the way.
"We are enormously proud. This is a big deal for Ferndale,” says Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn. “We like to say that by the time our youngest students finish their Kindergarten year in the Ferndale School District, we want them to start seeing themselves as High School graduates. Part of our focus on creating a 'graduation culture' in Ferndale is having our High School Senior class walk the halls of our elementary schools every June. Our littlest kids get to look up to our graduating students – they see the caps, gowns, and tassels and start to get an idea of what graduation is all about. It is powerful."
Ferndale High School Principal Jeremy Vincent agrees. "This number is hugely exciting. Students should be proud. Teachers should be proud. Families should be proud. Coaches should be proud. Every single person who has come alongside a student to encourage graduation shares this success. And that happens starting in Kindergarten. When freshman first arrive on campus, our High School Counseling Team comes alongside and picks up the graduation discussion right where the middle schools left off. That's the thing about graduation culture – it becomes part of our ongoing dialogue at school."
Mapping student success is something that Aurora Davis has done for over ten years as Chair of the Counseling Department at Ferndale High School. "We have a four-person school counseling team. What that means is that each of us focuses on one cohort of students at Ferndale High School and follows that cohort throughout their time here. This helps us develop personal relationships with our students – if we see kids start to get behind on credits we mobilize. We provide resources. We try to make sure that each kid knows that they are not struggling alone. We will do what it takes to help kids find success."
Sometimes success requires flexibility. A rough academic start as a freshman does not mean the end of a student's High School story. There are options for kids struggling to right-the-ship of early academic struggles. Some of those options include the SOAR program, credit retrieval activities, and connections to resources outside of the Ferndale High School building including at local colleges.
Graduation rates are calculated annually based on the number of students graduating from a tracked cohort entering High School in 9th grade year. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction makes that information available for each school in Washington State via the following website: http://www.k12.wa.us/DataAdmin/Dropout-Grad.aspx
Ferndale School District
Erin Vincent, 360-223-6147