NCSD Graduation Rates on the Rise; Literacy Efforts Play a Role

The Wyoming Department of Education has released the four-year, on-time graduation rate data for the class of 2017 and it shows an impressive jump in the overall graduation rate for NCSD’s high schools. The graduation rate for the class of 2017 is 79.34%, which is an increase of 2.76 percentage points from the previous year. All three of NCSD’s traditional high schools increased their graduation rates:

Kelly Walsh High School: 83.3% (from 76.0%)

Midwest High School: 100% (from 84.6%)

Natrona County High School: 81.8% (from 80.8%)

In addition, NCSD’s alternative high school, Roosevelt High School, graduated 45.6% of its students – a 20% improvement since 2010. This increase across the district has come at a time when the credits required to graduate have risen to 26.5.

The increase in graduation rates is a massive step toward meeting one of NCSD’s goals outlined in the Strategic Plan: Graduating at least 85% of students by the year 2019.


Literacy Efforts Showing Results

Approximately a decade ago NCSD launched a heavy focus on literacy efforts, particularly in the early elementary school grades. Multiple studies have shown that the percentage of high school graduates almost directly correlates with the number of third graders reading at or above grade level. The importance of early elementary students enjoying reading and becoming proficient at reading became a district and community priority. The district enacted partnerships with We Read and Wyoming Reads – two community organizations with an emphasis on early childhood literacy.

We Read

We Read was launched in 2011 as a partnership between the Natrona County School District, Casper Star-Tribune, and the Natrona County Public Library in an effort to improve our community. The mission of the effort is to have all Natrona County students reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade. We Read accomplishes this by distributing age-appropriate books to every K-3 grade student once a month – to help grow their family’s library at home and encourage reading. Since its launch We Read has distributed approximately 400,000 books to Natrona County students!

We Read also produces My Trib, a weekly magazine that is distributed to schools and included with the Casper Journal. The magazine provides tools to improve reading proficiency through serials, literacy games, and a variety of topics to meet diverse interests of its audience.

In 2016 We Read launched the “We Read – Fun Games for Kids” mobile app – a literacy-development app that features more than 50 games for multiple grade levels. Featuring “Pronghorn Platte”, the app caters to Wyoming audiences, but is available for download worldwide.









Wyoming Reads

“Casper Cares, Casper Reads” was a program that started in 1999. Six hardback books of varying reading levels were selected to be distributed to each first grade classroom in the school district. Each student then had the opportunity to select the book of their choice. In 2006, the Casper Cares, Casper Reads program was taken to a new level, expanding statewide for the first time as “Wyoming Reads.” The program has since grown to include celebrations in all of Wyoming’s 23 counties. Each year the program distributes books to thousands of first graders across the state.

John Jorgensen leads the group of extraordinary educators and civic leaders that put on Wyoming Reads. John established the Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation and the “Casper Cares, Casper Reads” celebration to honor his late wife’s commitment to literacy and books. “She was always very dedicated to children and to literacy,” says John. “She believed that until someone can read, they can’t really do anything else.” This is the vision fueling this important community enterprise.









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