Friday, March 02, 2007

NC's Graduation Rate

On Wednesday, the State Department of Public Instruction released updated information on North Carolina's mediocre graduation rate. According to education officials, 68.1 percent of freshmen who entered high school in 2002 graduated four years later; however, they also cautioned against assuming that the approximately 32 percent of students dropped out since they may have graduated in more than four years or obtained their GED at a community college. Further, the data does not track students who may have transferred to another school after the ninth grade.

This is the first time North Carolina officials have released the so-called "cohort" graduation rate, which is a new measure approved by the National Governor's Association. Eventually all 50 states will switch to this new way of reporting. In previous years, North Carolina used a different method to calculate its graduation rate, which had been estimated at close to 90 percent.

The graduation rate for Guilford County was a disappointing 63.5 percent. Unfortunately, the data also shows large gaps among races, ethnicities, and genders. While 73.6 percent of white students graduated within four years, the rate dropped to 60 percent for blacks, 51.8 percent for Hispanics, and 51.1 percent for Native Americans. Female students graduated at a rate of 72.4 percent, but the rate was only 63.9 percent for males. Also alarming, only 55.3 percent of economically disadvantaged students graduated in four years.

The House Select Committee on High School Graduation and Dropout Rates has been meeting for several months and legislators are expected to address this issue in the coming months. Many education officials continue to push for an increase in the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18. Legislators are also in the process of reforming and restructuring high schools, offering stronger career counseling programs, and improving alternative learning programs for students with discipline problems.

For more information on the new graduation rates in our area and across the state, go to:

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