Walla Walla graduation rates are on the rise.

Assistant Superintendent Chris Gardea this week told Walla Walla School Board members that Walla Walla High School’s four-year graduation rate is 90 percent, about 10 percent higher than Washington state averages.

Lincoln High School’s four-year graduation rate is 85 percent, representing a 15 percent improvement over the past five years, and four percent above the state average, Gardea said.

The district’s overall graduation rate is 82 percent, when the district’s alternative learning sites are factored in. The district’s goal for 2022 is 85 percent, officials said.

Graduation rates for Latino students came in at 7 percent higher than the state average and reflected a 12 percent increase over that five year period, Gardea said.

The news is also improved for students who take five years to finish high school — data from 2018 shows those rates are tracking to meet the district’s 2022 goal of 90 percent, he said.

The information comes from a number of sources, including Washington’s Office of Public Instruction, National Student Clearing House and the state’s Board of Community and Technical Colleges, Gardea said later.

Tracking by the district shows fewer Walla Walla graduates who enter college need remedial courses — there was an 8 percent decrease from 2015 to 2015 for community college students, and a 12 percent decrease in the last three years for four-year college students.

Historically, Walla Walla School District graduates trended higher than state averages in the need for such classes, but the district has now dropped below that number, Gardea said.

He used a report from Washington state’s Education Research and Data Center, which provides postsecondary information to all districts in the state, to get those numbers, Gardea said today.

The rates indicate headway on the district’s five-year strategic plan, specifically the goal of ensuring comprehensive and consistent programs and systems for all students, officials said.

Staff diligence in working with students from their first moments in high school is one of the reasons for the success this data shows.

For kids who encounter challenges with attendance or grades, support teams knit a safety net of counselors, teachers, intervention specialists and health professionals around them, Gardea said.

Such efforts used to be reserved for 11th and 12th grade, he said, but now the teams work on every grade level.

A new version of summer school introduced in 2018 is also making a difference.

“The summer session allowed credit to be earned, in either retrieving credits or earning original credits,” he said.

Summer classes moved from all remedial for junior and seniors to include health, art, P.E. and pre-algebra, meaning students with tight schedules could get a jump on fitting those in, according to Gardea.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.