KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- More Kansas City Public School students are graduating on time, according to Missouri's annual progress report for schools.
Teachers at Northeast High School say they're keeping more kids on the path to college and careers.
Just a few years ago, Northeast was plagued by reports of fighting and drug activity. But this year, nearly seven out of ten students graduated in four years.
"My freshman year was kind of rough because it was like pressure and oh, you have to do good things," said Yunaivys Zavala, a senior who expects to graduate in May. "You see the people doing bad and you want to do bad too. But you have to go your own way, you have to be the leader."
The graduation rate has seen a dramatic jump at Northeast just in the last two years, going from about 54 percent to nearly 69 percent.
And more students also are graduating in five years, an indicator that teachers and students aren't giving up or dropping out.
The principal say changing the culture at the school has parents, students and teachers now all working toward the same goal.
"We’ve seen success by retaining our kids," said Doug Bolden, Northeast principal. "A lot of kids come in as freshmen, there’s a very high mobility rate. We still have mobility but it’s really cut down because our kids want to stay here. We try to create an ambiance in the building where it feels like home but it also feels like family so I feel like we’ve made great strides in making that happen for our students."
For the first time in many years, the state says the four year graduation rate among all Kansas City Public Schools topped 70 percent. And the total number of graduates also has increased by 10 percent during the last two years.
At Northeast, Bolden is striving for a 100 percent graduation rate.
More students also are getting a qualifying score on college entrance tests, like the ACT, as the district is seeing more graduates attend college or move into productive careers.