Pasco Schools' graduation rates are the highest in Tri-Cities - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Pasco Schools' graduation rates are the highest in Tri-Cities

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PASCO, Wash.-- -

Pasco Schools' graduation rates are the highest in Tri-Cities. Pasco students went from the bottom to the top when it comes to graduation rates. In fact their rates are the highest across the Tri-Cities. 

It's been quite a process. In 2005, Pasco Schools had less than 50% of students graduating and now they're up to 75%. They started intervention teams at each high school where administrators work with students and achievement specialists to keep these students on track.

New Horizons High School Principal Christy Rasmussen says getting to know the students well is the key. "You want to meet them at the door and say hey how was your mom, how's your little brother? Then that's how you let someone know you care, and that's important. Kids need to know that we care about them," said Rasmussen.

Pasco's Schools have been even more successful in their extended graduation program. The extended program helps students up to 21 years of age get their high school diploma. Their graduation rate is up to 86% which is higher than the state average. Pasco High School Principal Raul Sital says the district has been working with schools K-12 to make improvements. "We've been focusing on the instruction of how we do business. We've been looking at standards, we've been looking at assessments," said Sital. 

We talked with several students who say the personal interaction with teachers and staff in the intervention teams helps motivate them. Pasco High School student Gerardo Sandoval says "no matter what you're going to get help on everything. They're there for you. So if you got questions, then you can ask them."

New Horizons student Norma Cervantes says "they help me with my educational problems." Student Bradley Beck says "this school makes it fun to graduate. Instead of just something you have to do. They make it something you want to do."

One goal for the school is to have more students participate in extracurricular activities and Saturday school. The extra activities help boost test scores. Right now more than 45% of students are already enrolled in extra programs.