The number of Maryland students receiving their high school diplomas has jumped again, according to data released today by the Maryland State Department of Education. As the graduation rate has hit record levels, the dropout rate has declined.
“Every student who graduates from high school moves a step closer to college, career, and a world of opportunities,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery. “These results show that Maryland is headed in the right direction, but we also must continue work to close gaps in graduation rates that persist among students of different backgrounds.”
The four-year cohort graduation rate reached 86.39 percent in 2014 — more than 4 percentage points better than the 81.97 percent rate registered in 2010. The graduation rate jumped more than 1 percent over 2013, from 84.97 percent. At the same time, dropout rates have fallen to new lows.
In Anne Arundel County, the public schools continued to surpass the state four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2014, and the district saw significant improvement in the graduation rate for several racial and ethnic student groups, students who receive special education services and those who receive free and reduced-price meals, according to the data released by the Maryland State Department of Education.
AACPS’ four-year graduation rate — measured by the percentage of students who receive diplomas four years after entering high school, rose more than 2 percentage points, from 85.57 percent (Class of 2013) to 87.75 percent (Class of 2014). AACPS’ rate is more than 1.3 points higher than the state rate of 86.39 percent.
Eight of the county’s 13 high schools have graduation rates of 90 percent or higher, led by Arundel High School’s 95.31.
“While it is clear that we still have much work to do, these gains are a credit to dedicated educators whose passion for our students knows no limits; to students who push themselves to reach their goals; and to parents whose support is instrumental in the success of their children,” Superintendent George Arlotto said.
State improvement across the board
While gaps in graduation rates between student groups in Maryland remain, the numbers improved across the board in 2014:
- Four-year cohort graduation rates for American Indian, African American, Asian, Hispanic, and White students improved between 2013 and 2014, as did the rate for students identifying as two or more races.
- The graduation rate for African American students has jumped from 76.09 in 2010 to 80.54 in 2014.
- The graduation rate for Hispanic students has improved nearly 6 percentage points, from 71.7 percent in 2010 to 77.5 percent in 2014,
- Among students receiving special services, the four-year cohort graduation rate rose in two of three categories. The graduation rate for Special Education students, for example, improved more than 3 percentage points in one year, from 60.03 percent to 63.45 percent.
- The graduation rate for students receiving free- or reduced price meals increased by nearly two percentage points, from 75.81 percent to 77.75 percent.
- The graduation rate for English Language Learners (ELL) dipped from 57.3 percent to 54.1 percent. It should be noted that many ELL students spend an additional year in high school. The five-year cohort graduation rate for ELL students in 2013–the most recent year with complete figures–stood at 67.48 percent.
Maryland five years ago moved to the cohort graduation rate, which follows a set group of students from freshman year through their senior year. The four-year cohort graduation rate has improved every year since. Simultaneously, the dropout rate has been in steady decline. The State’s dropout rate, which stood at 11.93 percent in 2010, dropped to 8.35 percent in 2014.
The percentage of students dropping out of school also has declined across racial subgroups. The four-year cohort dropout rate for Hispanic students has declined from 18.65 percent in 2011 to 14.68 percent in 2014. The dropout rate for African American students fell from 14.6 percent in 2011 to 10.57 percent in 2014.
Improvement in Anne Arundel schools
Five high schools in Anne Arundel saw increases of 3 or more percentage points, led by Northeast High School’s 8-point jump to 90.67 percent. Old Mill’s graduation rate increased 6.1 points, followed by Glen Burnie (4.5 points), Broadneck (4.3 points), and North County (3.2 points).
Among student groups, the biggest gains came in the percentage of students receiving special education services (7.1 points) and students identified as being of two or more races (4.6 points). The graduation rate for Hispanic students rose by nearly 3.2 points, and the rate for white students rose just over 2.4 points. The graduation rate rose 1.9 points for African-American students, 1.7 points for students who receive free and reduced-priced meals, and nearly 1 point for Asian students.
MSDE also calculates a five-year graduation rate for schools and school systems. AACPS’ five-year graduation rate for the Class of 2013 was 87.56 percent, slightly higher than the state rate of 87.48 percent.
Calvert County improvement
In Calvert County, the 2014 four-year cohort graduation rate reached 94.09 percent after hovering at just over 91 percent every year since 2010. The dropout rate declined from 5.95 percent in 2010 to 4.01 percent in 2014.
Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent of Schools, said, “We are pleased to see the hard work of our staff and students pay off. More graduates and fewer dropouts are just what we need to fuel economic recovery in Calvert County. This is a great place to go to school.”
The principals of the four high schools attribute the increase to the diligent work of staff members who provide interventions and establish relationships with students to create a supportive school culture.
Significantly, the gaps between students in racial and ethnic groups are small. Four-year cohort graduation rates for African-American, Hispanic, and white students all improved between 2010 and 2014. The graduation rate for African-American students is 94.14 percent; for Hispanic students, 94 percent; and for white students, 93.94 percent. Students who identify as two or more races graduated at a rate of 94.37 percent and Asian students at over 95 percent.
While gaps in graduation rates between student groups receiving special services remain, the numbers improved in 2014. The graduation rate for students receiving special education services increased to 75.34 percent from 73.26 percent in 2010. The graduation rate for students receiving free or reduced-price meals increased to 90.65 percent from 83.98 percent in 2010.
More information on graduation rates can be found at www.mdreportcard.org.