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School District sees record graduation rate for second year


For two years in a row, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has achieved a record four-year graduation rate.


For the 2017-2018 school year, 711 of the 906 students in the district’s four-year cohort graduated, resulting in a 78.5 percent graduation rate. This is the district’s highest reported graduation rate.


“I am so pleased with the work our teams across the school district have engaged in to achieve this accomplishment, said Superintendent Karen Gaborik. “While the graduation is still not as high as we would like it to be, we are making significant progress.”


According to Gaborik, graduation rates are impacted by effective instruction in the classroom and also increased social emotional supports for students and families from district social workers and through staff training around adverse childhood experiences. The school district focus is on equity and personalizing instruction and supports for students.


“My goal is to give students what they need when they need it so every single student can be a successful learner. As that cultural shift manifests, we will see positive results in indicators such as graduation rate, said Gaborik. “Our teams are becoming increasingly effective at meeting students where they are at and helping them achieve the next level of learning so they will be successful in life after graduation.”


The 2017-2018 four-year graduation rates by demographics are:


  • African American* – 73.5 percent
  • Alaska Native/American Indian* – 60.3 percent
  • Asian/Pacific Islander* – 78.3 percent
  • Caucasian* – 81.6 percent
  • Hispanic – 79.7 percent
  • Economically Disadvantaged – 63.8 percent


The groups marked with (*) include students who identified an additional race and/or as Hispanic.


The 2017-2018 four-year graduation rate for economically disadvantaged students increased 4.9 percentage points over the 2016-2017 rate. This year’s four-year graduation rate increased over last year’s rate for all race/ethnicity groups except one.


The graduation rate for Alaska Native/American Indian* students dropped 4 percentage points from last year. Of 189 students in the 2017-2018 cohort, 114 graduated in four years, compared with a 2016-2017 cohort of 154 students with 99 graduating in four years.


“Our high school principals are leading data discussions with their staffs and digging in not only to graduation rates but also other measurable indicators for each population of students they serve in their buildings, said Gaborik. “School teams are committed to identifying the wide variety of needs among a diverse student population and developing personalized academic and social-emotional solutions based on those needs.  One of my goals is to support schools with targeted resources for their unique student populations.”


Beginning in 2010-2011, the state of Alaska adopted the adjusted cohort methodology for calculating graduation rates, which is based on the number of students in the 9th grade cohort adjusted by student transfers over the years. Compared to the 2010-2011 year, the district has experienced increases in four-year graduation rates for all race/ethnicity groups and economically disadvantaged students.



2017-2018 Graduation Rate

2016-2017 Graduation Rate

Increase/ Decrease from 2016-2017

2010-2011 Graduation Rate

Increase/ Decrease from 2010-2011

Number of Students in 2017-2018 Cohort

African American*



+ 5.5%


+ 10.8%


Alaska Native/ American Indian*



- 4%


+ 8.9%


Asian/ Pacific Islander*



+ 9.8%


+ 1.5%





+ 1.5%


+ 6%





+ 12.5%


+ 13%


Economically Disadvantaged



+ 4.9%


+ 15.3%



A moderate correlation exists between the four-year graduation rate and high student attendance rates.


High School Attendance Rate

2017-2018 Graduation Rate

95 percent and higher (missing less than 9 days per school year)


90 – 94 percent (missing 9-17 days per school year)


80 – 89 percent (missing 18 – 34 days per school year)


70 - 79 percent (missing 35 – 51 days per school year)


60 – 69 percent (missing 52 – 68 days per school year)


Less than 60 percent (missing 69 or more days per school year)



“It is as simple as this: If parents and the community can help students attend school every day, students will achieve at higher levels and they will graduate,” said Gaborik. “Our schools can have huge positive impacts in academic achievement and social-emotional development if students come to school and access effective instruction and targeted supports.”


Explore the school district graduation rate data further in our interactive data dashboard available on the Research and Accountability webpage.


Sharice Walker