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      Ottumwa sees significant improvement in graduation rate

      The Ottumwa School District is celebrating a significant improvement in their graduation rate.

      The district found out from data released by the state this week that Ottumwa High School has met the state average rate for the first time in many years. Iowa's state-wide average sits at 89.7%. Throughout the 2000's, OHS has seen a rate somewhere in the 70's and low 80's. It was as low as 69% in 2004.

      But now, OHS can boast a rate of 88.9%, an improvement the district attributes to initiatives like the freshman academy, a graduation coach, welcome center and overall focus on culture over the last four years.

      With all those intervention measures in place, it was just a matter of time before Ottumwa saw results.

      "We really felt like this number that we had, this low 80's number would increase, just because of these things that we were doing," said Mark Hanson, Principal at Ottumwa High School. "And finally, we just got the news this week that that number was up around 89%, so OHS is now right up at the state average and we're very proud of that."

      While this is a success to celebrate, Hanson said the district can't let up now. Though they may never achieve the ultimate goal of a 100% graduation rate, it's important to continue moving forward.

      "We have to work with each and every student to make sure they have as good a chance as possible to succeed at the high school level and get them ready for the next level," Hanson said. "That's what we're all about."