KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Graduation rates have gone up at Knox County high schools over the past few years due in part to some new ideas the school system has implemented.
A majority of the high school graduation rates are now over 90%. Only one high school saw a decrease.
Halls High School Principal Mark Duff explained why graduation rates have increased in county.
"Team work," said Duff, "No other solution, no other explanation. It's team work."
Duff says keeping graduation at the center of all conversations is key.
"You don't have many conversations with students unless graduation is one of the first points brought up," he said. "If it's a discipline situation, graduation. If it's a drop out situation, graduation."
Another school that saw a huge increase was Gibbs High School.
"We have tried to create an atmosphere," explained Gibbs High School Principal Lynn Hill. "This is where the kids want to be. I would rather be here than home."
Hill says they have implemented several new programs and is proud seeing the numbers grow.
"When I see that number from 2012 it's both accomplishment and excitement," said Hill.
At Gibbs High School, the graduation rate jumped from 89.5% in 2011 to 94% in 2012. At Halls High School, the graduation rate went from 89.1% to 95.2%.
The district's overall graduation rate also increased from 86.6% to 90.3%.
Both Duff and Hill say along with individual efforts in increasing graduation rates they also give a lot of credit to Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre. They say his vision really helped these numbers increase.
"There is no one silver bullet," said Dr. McIntyre. "A lot of hard work on the part of a lot of people over a long period of time, that's what it's about."
Dr. McIntyre credits the school system's five-year strategic plan and says he sees the graduation rates continuing to increase.
"It represents extraordinary success on the part of our teachers, our counselors, and our parents and students, our community," said Dr. McIntyre.
One change school officials have made recently is really focusing on the freshmen. Freshmen orientation and ninth grade academies have helped students make a plan to graduate.
Dr. McIntyre says another huge factor has been the start of the Kelley Volunteer Academy in the Knoxville Center Mall to help more at-risk students.
Dr. McIntyre will be discussing all of these improvements at a public meeting Thursday, December 13 starting at 6 p.m. It will be held at the Bricky-McCloud Elementary School.
A full list of all of the high school graduation rates in Knox County is available on the Knox County Schools website.