Diplomas Count 2016: Remaking High Schools
New High School Models Abound as Graduation Rate Hits All-Time High
Gaps Narrow, But Black, Latino, and Native American Students Lag Behind
News Release from Education Week
WASHINGTON—June 2, 2016—Even as the nation's graduation rate has reached an all-time high of 82 percent for the class of 2014, remaking the American high school is a challenge that has perplexed generations of education leaders. A new report from Education Week draws on the field's long reform history to identify lessons learned about what it takes to provide a high school experience that meets the needs of today's students.
"Graduation rates have steadily improved during the past decade, a period when the federal government, states, advocates, and many others brought heightened attention to the condition of the nation's high schools," said Christopher B. Swanson, Vice President of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. "Inequities remain, but the overall picture is one of progress."
Decades of reform have produced mixed results, and experts and practitioners can point to a long list of best practices from high-performing high schools. But how can we make sense of these varied and sometimes-contradictory approaches? Education Week's Diplomas Count report highlights two factors that stand out: coherence and diversity. While all high schools should be great, they do not all need to be great in the same way.
REMAKING HIGH SCHOOLS
Diplomas Count shares stories from schools and districts across the country, with each putting its own spin on innovation. A rural Vermont high school, for example, has remade itself around the idea of "student voice," while schools in El Paso, Texas, are focusing on pathways to college and aligning coursework with the demands of the state university system. A school in Omaha, Nebraska, is exposing its students to career ideas and arranging for them to work outside the traditional classroom in a variety of industries. And, in Cleveland, a STEM-focused high school has taken the idea of community partnerships to a new level, literally moving entire grades of students out into the city to work and take classes at the science museum, at a local business, and on a university campus.
Ambitious ideas don't always come off without a hitch, though. Education Week spent a year following Denver's effort to create a comprehensive high school of the future, featuring the elements that researchers have suggested will benefit teenagers. But leadership changes and compromises have watered down or delayed the original vision.
GRADUATION RATES RISE, GAPS NARROW
According to the most recent federal data using the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, the nation's on-time graduation rate reached 82 percent for the class of 2014. This marks a new high, with the rate increasing by a full percentage point from the prior year and by 3 points since 2011. Graduation is also on the rise in most states, with half reaching or exceeding the 85 percent mark for the class of 2014. Even so, a gap of 30 points separates the highest- and lowest-performing states: 91 percent graduate in Iowa and only 61 percent graduate in the District of Columbia, treated here as a state.
Consistent with long-term trends, members of the class of 2014 from historically disadvantaged racial or ethnic groups and those with distinct educational needs are much less likely to finish high school. But, because gains among lower-performing groups have been particularly strong in recent years, the gaps separating black and Latino youths, students with disabilities, and English-language learners from their peers have narrowed considerably.
DIPLOMAS COUNT ENDS ITS RUN
When Education Week published the first edition of Diplomas Count 10 years ago, graduation rates were all over the map and the report provided education leaders and the public with essential information on high school completion. Even as it will be important to build further on the progress realized since then, advances in state and federal reporting practices have lessened the need for the type of independent analysis that has long been a hallmark of Diplomas Count.
As a result, the 2016 edition of the report will be its last. Education Week remains committed to highlighting issues critical to ensuring that all students get an equal opportunity to earn a high school diploma that prepares them for future success. Reporting on these issues will continue in Education Week and in the recently launched High School & Beyond blog.
The full Diplomas Count 2016 report, press release, and a variety of interactive features can be found online at: www.edweek.org/go/dc16.
LINK -- Diplomas Count 2016 Map: Graduation Rates by State, Student Group
HAWAII GRADUATION RATES:
- 59% -- Students with Disabilities
- 53% -- Limited English Proficiency
- 78% -- Economically Disadvantaged
- 72% -- American Indian
- 83% – Asian (6th-worst in USA)
- 76% -- Latino
- 76% -- Black
- 80% -- White
- 82% -- TOTAL