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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106

Graduation Rate: 81 Percent of Class of 2007 Graduated In Four Years

Board votes to increase rate to 60 percent in 4 years; 65 percent in 5 years

MALDEN - Nearly 81 percent of students in the class of 2007 graduated four years after starting high school as freshmen, according to statewide graduation rate data released to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

This is the second year that high schools have been required to make or surpass a target graduation rate of 55 percent to make AYP. The Board voted 6-3 on Tuesday to increase that rate for the 2008 AYP determinations.

Under the new policy, high schools will be required to meet or surpass a four-year graduation rate of 60 percent, a five-year graduation rate of 65 percent or show a 2 percentage point increase in the four-year graduation rate from the previous year.

"The graduation rate is a critically important indicator of our success," said Board of Education Chairman Paul Reville. "I am delighted to see some modest improvement this year, and I committed to ensuring that this remains a priority topic for the Board of Education going forward."

Acting Commissioner Jeffrey Nellhaus agreed.

"The graduation rate is a useful tool because it helps us get a clear picture of how many of our students graduate in four years, how many need five years and how many take longer or require an alternate route," he said. "It's important that we hold our schools to the highest possible standard, so I am pleased that the Board has agreed to increase this target."

According to the report, 80.9 percent of the nearly 76,000 student who entered high school as freshmen in 2003 – the 2007 "cohort" - graduated in four years. Of the remaining students, 6.6 percent are still in school, less than 1 percent did not earn a high school diploma after completing four years of high school, 2 percent earned a GED, and 9.4 percent dropped out.

Statewide, 40 of the Commonwealth's 351 high schools are not expected to meet the new target for their 2008 AYP determinations. If the Board had not adopted the new rate with three options, 65 schools would have been impacted.

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."

While the state's overall rate increased from last year, a gap was still evident in the graduation rate among minority students: In the 2007 cohort, 65.2 percent of African American students graduated within four years, as did 58.5 percent of Hispanics, 83.7 percent of Asians and 86.4 percent of White students.

Among subgroups, 53.3 percent of Limited English Proficient students graduated within four years, as did 62.8 percent of special education students and 65.2 percent of low income students.

Last year was the first year the state was able to calculate a cohort graduation rate based on student level data. Using data compiled through the state's Student Information Management System (SIMS), the state can 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/infoservices/reports/gradrates.



Last Updated: January 22, 2008
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