Maryland high school graduation rates have never been higher while the dropout rate has fallen to an all-time low.
According to data released by the Maryland State Department of Education, The four-year cohort graduation rate reached 87.61 percent in 2016 -- nearly 6 points better than the 82 percent rate registered in 2010. The graduation rate jumped .6 percentage points over 2015, from 86.98 percent.
State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmonwas pleased with the news.
“The new data is great news for Maryland, as the high school diploma is the important first step of a successful journey,” she said. “We continue to strengthen our standards and our classrooms to better prepare each student for employment or additional education.”
As graduation rates have improved, the dropout rate dipped below 8 percent for the first time -- hitting 7.97 percent.
In Baltimore City, the Class of 2016 saw a 1.2 percent increase over the previous year, with graduation rates at 70.7 percent.
However, the graduation rate decreased among student with disabilities, low-income students and English language learners.
City Schools’ Chief Executive Officer Dr. Sonja Santelises addressed the issue.
“While the latest graduation data show some growth, the small rate of increase and the fact that too few of our students overall are completing high school in four years reinforces the urgency of our work,” she said. “I am particularly concerned about the decreased graduation rates for some of our highest needs students. We must increase our efforts to ensure that these students—and all students—receive the support and resources they need for success.”
Dropout rates increased in Baltimore City to 13.9 percent in 2016 from 13.2 percent in 2015.
“Providing options for students who have fallen behind on credits is an area of renewed focus for the district’s academics team,” said Chief Academic Officer Sean Conley. “We’re seeing success with our re-engagement center, where students who have dropped out are connected to resources and services both in and out of the classroom to make it possible for them to return to school.
"We must also provide more programs where students can accelerate their progress and get back on track to graduation, and we need to provide relevant, engaging instruction across schools and grade levels to motivate young people to stay in school.”
In Baltimore County Public Schools, the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate reached 89.2 percent. for the Class of 2016, marking six consecutive years of gains.
“Our progress in raising the graduation rate reflects our commitment to equity and opportunity for all students,” said BCPS Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance. “Our principals, teachers, and school counselors have done an amazing job of making graduation a priority in every school, for every child.
"By addressing individual student needs, using credit recovery programs and other strategies, our educators have been able to ensure that a higher percentage of students graduate year after year, and this makes a tremendous positive difference in the lives of our students and our community."
Four-year adjusted cohort dropout rates for BCPS continued to decrease, down to 7.5 percent.