State’s high school graduation rate relatively unchanged, still lagging national performance

Washington’s public high school four-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 was 79.3 percent, up from 79.1 percent for the class of 2016, according to a new report from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  That’s the traditional “on time” graduation figure. OSPI also takes a longer view.

The 5-year graduation rate for students who entered 9th grade for the first time in 2012– 13 is 82.4 percent. This is an increase from the previous year’s 5-year rate, which was 81.9 percent.

OSPI produced the 6- and 7-year rates for the first time in the 2016–17 school year. The 6- year graduation rate for students who entered 9th grade for the first time in 2011–12 is 83.1 percent and the 7-year graduation rate for students who entered 9th grade for the first time in 2010–11 is 82.9.

The Seattle Times reports some good news in the data.

…black, Latino, special-education and low-income students — who on average still trail the overall graduation rate — posted higher-than-average growth during the past two years. The graduation rate for black students, for example, rose from 70.7 percent in 2016 to 71.5 percent last year, while the graduation rate for students with special needs reached 59.4 percent in 2017, up from 58.1 percent the year before. 

We’ve previously written that Washington’s graduation rates lag the nation as a whole.  And the Seattle Times story notes,

The nation’s high-school graduation rate was 84 percent for the 2015-16 school year, the most recent data available.

Performance varies among school districts.

Across King County, a number of school districts posted rates higher than the state average, including Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Northshore, Riverview, Snoqualmie Valley and Tahoma — all of which graduated more than 90 percent of the class of 2017.

As we’ve said before, Washington is poised for substantial growth in great job opportunities; most of them will be filled by workers with a postsecondary credential or some college. The obvious prerequisite: graduating from high school with a meaningful diploma. We have a ways to go to make sure our high school students are prepared to seize the opportunities awaiting them.