Maryland high school students are graduating at record high rate, according to newly released statewide data.
The four-year cohort graduation rate reached 83.57 percent for the class of 2012 – students who entered school in the fall of 2008 – compared to 82.82 percent in 2011. The new rate represents a jump of nearly a full percentage point. At the same time, the four-year cohort dropout rate fell statewide from 11.22 percent in 2011 to 10.28 percent in 2012.
“Because of the better choices we've made together, Maryland’s public schools have been certified as number one in the nation five years in row," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Thanks to our dedicated educators, students and parents, our high school students are graduating at a higher rate now than ever before. Together, we're building state-of-the-art classrooms, creating innovative curricula, and preparing our students for the jobs of tomorrow. The more students that graduate, the stronger our economy will be and the better our future together."
State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery agreed that a better graduation rate establishes the foundation for continued success.
“Our primary goal as educators is to prepare students for college and career. The first step in that critical effort is to make certain our students receive their high school diplomas,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery. “We are not satisfied with the graduation numbers, but the new data indicates we are on the right road.”
The trend line for Maryland’s statewide graduation rate has been positive. Under a change in federal rules, high school graduation numbers are calculated in what is commonly called the “cohort rate.” The four-year adjusted cohort rate is the number of students who graduate with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. For any given cohort, students who are entering 9th grade for the first time form a cohort that is later “adjusted” by adding students who transfer in during the succeeding years, and subtracting those who transfer out.
The four-year cohort grad rate stood at 80.31 for the class of 2009 – the first year the cohort was calculated in Maryland. In the three years since, graduation rates have improved by more than three percentage points.
Graduation rates for most demographic groups have been improving as well. For example, the graduation rate for African American students has improved nearly 2.5 percentage points since 2010, and the graduation rate for Hispanic students jumped nearly a point over the between 2011 and 2012. The graduation rate for special education students has improved nearly 3 points since 2010.
As the graduation rate has risen, the dropout rate has declined. It stood at 13.78 percent in 2009 and has dropped more than 3.5 points over the past three years.
Maryland also tallies a five-year cohort graduation rate, since some students require additional years to complete their diplomas before successfully entering the workforce or postsecondary education. The five-year cohort rate the class of 2010 – students who entered school in 2006 – stood at 84.57. The five-year cohort rate for the class of 2011 rose to 85.51.
The new graduation data is now available on Maryland’s Report Card website, www.MdReportCard.org. A video tutorial on the cohort graduation rate is available at this link.