YHS graduation rate up; dropouts down

Principal also shares college remediation data in annual report

Melissa Barlow

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

As Yukon High School’s graduation rate continues to increase, the number of student dropouts was down in 2022 from recent years.

Principal Melissa Barlow presented YHS graduation and dropout trend data as part of her annual College Remediation and Dropout Report during the Feb. 6th Yukon Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting.

“Dropout numbers and graduation rates are not the same thing,” Barlow explained. “Dropouts are all the students that we lost track of or dropped out during the school year.

“The graduation rate is the percentage of kids we get to graduate within four years. So, the clock starts ticking the day a student starts ninth grade – whether with us or in another district. When they start ninth grade, they have four years to graduate.”

The annual YHS graduation rate has increased from 85% nine years ago to 96.23% last year. That’s one of the highest among high schools of similar size across Oklahoma, Barlow pointed out.

“There are very, very few kids who are not graduating within four years,” she said.

YHS now receives “credit back” from the state Department of Education for students who graduate in their fifth or sixth year of high school, the principal added.

The overall graduation rate is nearly 99% as YHS officials work closely with Yukon’s alternative school staff to help those fifth- and sixth-year seniors earn a diploma.

Any YHS student in grades 9-12 who leaves school before graduating – and does not enroll elsewhere – is reported as a dropout.

Students who obtain a GED or leaves for homeschool also are calculated as dropouts.

YHS dropouts by grade level during the 2021-22 school term were:

12th Grade – 2 students

11th Grade – 8 students

10th Grade – 5 students

9th Grade – 7 students

Half of the 22 students who dropped out last year received free and reduced lunch benefits. Seven of the dropouts were special education students.

YHS dropouts over the past five years have been:

2022 – 22 students

2021 – 25 students

2020 – 13 students

2019 – 28 students

2018 – 24 students

The 2020 figure was an anomaly since Yukon and other districts transitioned to online instruction during that school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In efforts to further reduce the dropout rate, YHS provides students with resources like the Yukon Alternative Learning Experience, the Canadian County Juvenile Center’s alternative program, Yukon Student Assistance Program, Yukon Virtual School (full-time and blended), Canadian Valley Tech’s Project Connect, among others.

“We have quite the options available,” Principal Barlow said. “We also have summer school to catch any of those kids up.”

Interventions include an academic “Reboot” program for in-person students, “Focus Friday” for virtual students, a semester-long senior capstone course, weekly counselor/principal meetings to discuss at-risk students, and collaboration meetings with the YALE team.

Meanwhile, YHS students and their parents are encouraged to visit with school officials before they consider dropping out.

Public school districts like Yukon are required to report dropouts yearly to the Oklahoma State Department of Education and provide annual reports to their local boards.

Yukon High School Principal Melissa Barlow shared data about her school’s student graduation, dropout and college remediation rates during an annual report Feb. 6 to Yukon Public Schools’ Board of Education.


The number of YHS students attending Oklahoma colleges was 254 in 2020 – up from 228 in ’19 and 244 in ‘18, according to the annual college remediation report.

“As our population grows at the high school, we’re obviously working to send more students to college,” Principal Barlow told YPS board members.

Yukon’s college remediation data, provided by the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education, covers the years 2018-20.

“This is for our kids who attended in-state public colleges and universities in the state of Oklahoma,” Barlow noted.

The report does not include any YHS graduates who went to college outside Oklahoma or attended private institutions.

Colleges and universities look at ACT and SAT scores to determine if students need to take remedial math, English, reading, or science courses.

Sixty-six YHS graduates entering college in fall 2020 had to take at least one remedial course – with most being in math and English.

That was 26% of the 254 college freshmen from Yukon enrolled for 2020-21, the report shows.

Percentage of YHS students requiring college remediation ranged between about 22% and 34% between 2016-20, according to the trend data.

“There was an increase in English, a pretty steady but slight drop in math and a large decrease in reading,” Barlow said.

YHS’ college remediation rates for 2020-21 were compared with eight other schools – Mustang, Jenks, Broken Arrow, Edmond North, Owasso, Union, Moore, and Norman.

Yukon had the highest percentage of students requiring remediation in English (15%) and third highest in math (19%) – but the lowest in reading (1%) in this comparison, according to the report.

Principal Barlow shared strategies that YHS officials are using to help lower college remediation rates.

“We continue to focus on literacy and math,” she emphasized.

Among strategies being used at YHS are:

  • A teachers’ literacy focus group
  • Specialized algebra, geometry and other math courses
  • An ACT suite of assessments focusing on college and career readiness
  • A school day intervention program
  • Biweekly common formative assessments with data analysis
  • Teaching methods focused on increasing depth of knowledge

Senate Bill 183 established a program designed to evaluate the performance of individuals schools and school districts across Oklahoma.