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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Contact:Contact: Heidi P. Guarino 781-338-3106

Preliminary Graduation Rate: 80 Percent of Class of 2006 Graduated In Four Years

MALDEN - Eighty percent of students in the class of 2006 graduated four years after starting high school as freshmen, according to statewide graduation rate data released to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

According to the report approximately 80 percent of the nearly 75,000 students who entered high school as freshmen in 2002 - the 2006 "cohort" - graduated in four years. Of the remaining students, about 6 percent are still in school, about 1 percent completed high school without earning their competency determination, about 1 percent earned a GED, and about 12 percent dropped out.

Nationwide studies have estimated the national graduation rate to be at about 70 percent. Finalized statewide numbers, along with local and school rates, will be released in early February.

"While by national standards Massachusetts is doing comparatively well, the results are concerning given the global imperative of transforming education in the Commonwealth," said Board of Education Chairman Christopher R. Anderson. "To boost the state's graduation rate we must create a comprehensive plan to improve education delivery, including enhanced training and support for teachers and providing innovative learning options for underperforming schools."

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll agreed.

"For the first time we have a clear picture of exactly how many students are graduating in four years, how many take longer, and how many never get there," he said. "I am pleased our statewide average is above the national average, but troubled to see so many of our students struggling to graduate. It's clear that we have much more work to do."

For federal accountability purposes under No Child Left Behind, all states are required to produce data describing the percentage of students who graduate with a diploma "within the standard number of years."

Beginning this year, the state will use the graduation rate instead of the CD attainment rate to make AYP determinations for high schools. To make AYP, high schools will have to either meet or surpass a target graduation rate. The Board is scheduled to vote to set that rate in February.

While the state's overall rate surpassed the national average, a gap was evident in the graduation rate among minority students: In the 2006 cohort, 64 percent of African Americans, 84 percent of Asians, 57 percent of Hispanics, 70 percent of Native Americans and 85 percent of white students graduated in four years.

A gap was also evident in the graduation rate among student subgroups: 55 percent of LEP students, 62 percent of special education students, 62 percent of urban students and 63 percent of low income students graduated in four years.

"These numbers reinforce what we already knew: We have a tremendous achievement gap in this state and nationwide," Driscoll said. "Too many of students are not reaching their potential, and that has to change. We need to do more to ensure that every student - regardless of race, ethnicity or hometown - gets the best possible education in our schools."

Until now the state has estimated graduation rates based on annual dropout data and grade level enrollment information. Now that the state's Student Information Management System (SIMS) has been in place for five complete years, the state is able to track students from their entrance into ninth grade through the time they exit.

For more information on the graduation rate, look online at www.doe.mass.edu/infosrvices/reports/gradrates.



Last Updated: January 23, 2007
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