Michigan High School Graduation Rates Continue to Climb

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LANSING — Graduation rates in Michigan continue to improve, as the statewide 4-year graduation rates for the 2013 graduating class increased to 76.9 percent, up 0.7 percent from the 2012 rate, according to the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information.

“Other than a smaller-than-expected dip in 2011, when the more rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements took full effect, graduation rates have remained on a steady upward trend since we began calculating rates by cohort group seven years ago,” said CEPI Director Thomas Howell.

Graduation rates are calculated by following individual students from the time they first enroll as ninth-graders. This method, which the center began using in the 2006-07 school year, provides a more accurate measure of a school’s success in preparing students for college and careers.

The organization, school administrators, and intermediate school district auditors work closely together to ensure data quality. They engage in several rounds of validation activities, including the exchange of information on interim rates, anomalies, student status and transfers, in the effort to accurately track and account for every student who enters a Michigan high school.

All but four of the 20 largest districts in the state improved their graduation rates. Large districts with the most significant gains were L’Anse Creuse Public Schools with an increase of 7.44 percent to 80.02 percent; Waterford School District, up 5.78 percent to 78.85 percent; Lansing Public School District, up 4.45 percent to 56.01 percent; and Dearborn City School District, up 3.64 percent to 86.17 percent.

While graduation rates for white students have remained relatively flat throughout the past five years, the gap between white and minority students continues to narrow. Graduation rates for Hispanic students reached 67.34 percent, a 3.04 percent increase, while the rate for black students increased by .53 percent to 60.46 percent. The five-year gains for Hispanic and black students are 7.01 and 4.17 percent, respectively.

Dropout rates show a corresponding downward trend. The 2013 statewide dropout rate was 10.54 percent, down .17 percent from the previous year. This is significantly lower than five years ago, when the dropout rate was 14.19 percent and indicates that fewer students — roughly 10 percent — are leaving high school within their first four years.

“We had confidence in our students and teachers meeting the more rigorous graduation standards,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “This is great news for Michigan, because as our economy rebounds, so does our need for a workforce with the kind of strong educational foundation our public schools are providing.”

Four-year graduation rates are a school accountability measure adopted by the state and the methodology for calculating the rates is aligned with the National Governors Association Graduation Counts Compact.

The center’s  report can be found on the state education data portal at mischooldata.org.

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