|For Immediate Release|
|Thursday, February 1, 2007|
|Contact:||Contact: Heidi P. Guarino 781-338-3106|
At Least 80 Percent of Students Graduate in Four Years in Most Districts
BOSTON - In 209 of the state's 279 school districts with high schools at least 80 percent of students in the class of 2006 graduated within four years, according to a new Department of Education analysis of graduation rates.
According to the analysis, in 104 districts more than 90 percent graduated within four years; in 35 more than 95 percent graduated within four years.
"These numbers show that while most of our students are achieving at high levels across the Commonwealth, too many are still struggling," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "In the 21st century, earning a high school diploma can no longer be considered an option - it is a necessity for anyone who wants to succeed in life."
The city/town districts with the highest graduation rates include: Weston (98.7 percent), Norwell (98.5 percent), Cohasset (98 percent), Dover-Sherborn (97.5 percent), Chelmsford (97 percent), Sharon (96.7 percent), Ashland (95.8 percent), Natick (95.3 percent) and Hingham (95.3 percent).
Statewide, 79.9 percent of the 74,380 students who entered high school as ninth graders in 2002 or transferred into the class - the 2006 "cohort" - graduated within four years. Of the remaining students, 6.4 percent are still in school, 1 percent completed high school without earning their competency determination, .8 percent earned a GED, 11.7 percent dropped out and .2 percent were expelled.
Nationwide studies have estimated the national graduation rate to be at about 70 percent.
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.
Statewide 62.3 percent of students graduated within four years in urban communities, an achievement gap Driscoll said must be immediately addressed.
The city/town districts with the lowest graduation rates include Lawrence (41 percent), Chelsea (45.8 percent), Holyoke (49.4 percent), Springfield (51.2 percent), Fall River (54.2 percent), New Bedford (57.4 percent) and Boston (59.1 percent).
The consequences of not graduating from high school are clearly stated in Northeastern University economist Andrew Sum's new study, "An Assessment of the Labor Market, Income, Health, Social, Civic and Fiscal Consequences of Dropping Out of High School: Findings for Massachusetts Adults in the 21st Century."
Among his findings: In their lifetime, high school graduates stand to earn more than $500,000 more than high school dropouts; 67 percent of employed workers with college degrees have health insurance, as compared to 48 percent of high school graduates and just 36 percent of dropouts.
Sum also studied the progress of girls who were eighth graders in 1988 who gave birth by 1996. Of that group 67 percent were high school dropouts, 31 percent were high school graduates and just 7 percent had college degrees.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to the needs of the students who are struggling to graduate from our schools," Driscoll said. "Today's employers want people with college degrees, so there aren't many opportunities for high school dropouts. It's our responsibility as educators to catch at-risk students early, provide the extra help and attention they require, and help them graduate with their peers."
Other findings in the state graduation report include:
- Statewide 76.4 percent of males graduated within four years, as compared to 83.5 percent of females.
- More females than males of every ethnicity graduated within four years: this includes 71.5 percent of female African-American students as compared to 57.5 percent of males; 62.7 percent of Hispanic females as compared to 51.2 percent of males; 88 percent of White females as compared to 82.2 percent of males.
- Three charter schools were the only ones to have 100 percent of their students graduate within four years: The Abby Kelley Foster Regional Charter Public School, Health Careers Academy Horace Mann Charter School, and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School.
- Of the students who did not graduate and are still in school, 60 percent already earned their competency determination.