High graduation rates reported among Latino students in South Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

High graduation rates reported among Latino students in South Lake Tahoe

Axie Navas

Last week, the California Department of Education released the 2010-11 graduation rates for the state’s public schools. South Tahoe High School ranked among the highest in the state, with a graduation rate of 92.3 percent compared to the statewide average of 76.3 percent.

And at 93.7 percent, the graduation rate of South Tahoe High’s Latino student body is the highest of any other of the school’s ethnic groups. That’s compared to the average 70.4 percent graduation rate of Latinos in California. Latino students form the largest minority on the South Tahoe High School campus, comprising about 35 percent of the student body.

Dr. James Tarwater attributes most of the success to the school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination program that aims to get students looking toward college early and that has a long history at the high school.

“The AVID program has a strong emphasis on going to college and providing support for college and strategies that will prepare students to go to college – and starting young,” said Tarwater.

Students start AVID in fourth grade and can continue with it until graduation. According to the AVID website, it’s an international program designed to raise the expectations of students who might otherwise be overlooked.

“The main emphasis is saying, ‘Look, guys, you can go to college. Let’s take a look at it,'” said Tarwater.

Support classes, such as tutoring in Math and English, and after-school programs like Academic Adventures Plus also help raise the graduation rate, said Tarwater. But, because of budget cuts, many of the former are starting to die out and AVID has taken center stage.

South Tahoe High School has a strong relationship with the Lake Tahoe Community College and both Tarwater and Christina Proctor, public communications officer at the college, cite that connection as another of the district’s strengths.

“The college is seen as a resource for the community. We have a person in the high school and in the middle school working on bringing those students along on the path of seeing college as a possibility,” said Proctor.

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