More Maryland students receiving diplomas.
The Maryland State Department of Education has good news to report. "Maryland students are receiving diplomas at the highest rate in recent history, according to a study just released," said spokesman Bill Reinhard.
MSDE last week briefed the State Board on high school graduation progress.
"Maryland last year moved to the cohort graduation rate, which follows a set group of students from freshman year through their senior year, better tracking their progress. The four-year cohort graduation rate jumped nearly a full percentage point between 2010 and 2011, from 81.97 to 82.82 percent. The five-year cohort graduation rate – those students completing their diploma in five years – improved from 84.57 to 85.51," Reinhard said.
Four-year cohort data for 2012 will be available next year, after summer data is finalized.
“The more you learn, the more you earn and improving high school graduation rates in our State is critical to building a highly-skilled and competitive workforce,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Together, we can create a stronger economy and a better future for our children.”
State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery agreed, noting that a high school diploma represents the first step in gaining the requisite preparation for a student’s next step, be it workforce or college.
“The data offer good news, but there remain too many students who leave our classrooms prior to graduation,” Dr. Lowery said. “That must continue to change.”
Data disaggregated by student subgroup finds some mixed success. Four-year cohort graduation rates for African American, Asian, and White students improved between 2010 and 2011, with African American graduation rising the most of any subgroup – more than two full percentage points, from 74.02 percent to 76.09 percent.
At the same time, the four-year cohort graduation rate for Hispanic students fell, from 73.44 to 71.77 percent. The graduation rate for students of two or more races also fell, from 93.42 percent to 91.17 percent, but that rate ranked second only to the Asian graduation rate of 93.1 percent.
Among students receiving special services, the four-year cohort graduation rate rose nearly two points for special education students, was relatively flat for students receiving free- or reduced price meals, and fell nearly two points for English Language Learners. Many special education and English Language Learners attend school an additional year to gain skills necessary for the workforce or higher education.
The 2011-2012 senior class was the fourth one for whom passing the High School Assessments (HSAs) in algebra/data analysis, biology, and English was a graduation requirement. An exam in government stopped being administered last year, but action by the General Assembly in the spring means that the exam returns in the 2012-2013 school year. Government will be a graduation requirement for those students who enter ninth grade in 2013-2014 and beyond.
Early data for 2012 found that nearly 60,000 students completed high school in 2011-12 – 58,792 receiving diplomas and 816 receiving special education certificates. Only one student missed getting a diploma solely because of failure to meet the Maryland high school graduation requirements.
Of the students who received a diploma in the spring, more than 90 percent met the HSA requirement through examination. Only 9.64 percent—5,669 students—met the requirement through the alternative Bridge Plan for Academic Validation. The Bridge Plan is the project-based alternative to the HSA exams.
"There also continues to be improvement on the dropout rate, with dropout patterns among student subgroups mirroring the graduation rates," said Reinhard. African American, Asian, and White dropout rates fell, while the rate for Hispanic students and those students of two or more races increased. Subgroup data shows that while the dropout rate decreased for special education students, it rose from 24.29 to 27.93 percent for English Language Learners.