Last week we released the Opportunity Washington scorecard. (Watch our video, read the report.) Overall, we climbed three spots to rank No. 25. Our Achieve (education quality and outcomes) showed significant improvement in postsecondary performance.
Washington’s Achieve ranking climbed four rungs, to No. 18. Our state made gains across the four postsecondary metrics tracked – associate’s, bachelor’s, STEM bachelor’s, and master’s degrees awarded per capita.
One area in which we continue to lag is high school graduation rates. The Seattle Times today confirms:
According to data released Monday, the national rate climbed to 84 percent, the highest since the National Center for Education Statistics six years ago changed the way it required states to calculate graduation rates
Among all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Iowa’s graduation rate was the highest, at 91 percent, and Washington, D.C., was at the bottom, with 69 percent of all students graduating within four years. Washington’s rate was 79.7 percent.
There are inconsistencies in measurement, but the pattern holds.
The rankings aren’t definitive, as each state has different requirements for students to graduate from high school. And some states offer alternative, sometimes less-stringent options for students to earn a diploma.
The numbers from the national center also differ slightly — 1 percentage point or less — from the state rates released in February by Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. For example, the state reported the graduation rate for the class of 2016 was slightly slower — at 79.1 percent.
The state superintendent’s office is reviewing the center’s statistics and methodology, said spokesman Nate Olson. The state also measures how many students graduate within five years; that rate for the class of 2016 was 82 percent.
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.