Monday, January 10, 2011

Good news about the 2010 graduation rates!

By Jackie Garvey
It was too bad that the announcement about 2010 graduation rates came right before Christmas. You may have been too distracted to hear the good news.

It bears repeating: the graduation rate for young people in Indiana in May 2010 was 84.1 percent, up 2.6 percentage points over 2009.

That in itself is noteworthy. But particularly gratifying is that young people who traditionally have been disadvantaged in school – members of racial minorities and youths who come from poor families – made the biggest strides.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, the rates for African-American and Hispanic students, those with limited English proficiency and those who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches each increased more than 6 percentage points from 2009 to 2010.

In the state’s largest school district, Indianapolis Public Schools, which has a large percentage of minority students, rates at several schools increased substantially. Arsenal Technical High School’s rate, for example, increased 10 percentage points in one year. Arlington’s rate went from 48 percent in 2008 to 59.7 percent in 2009 to 66.4 percent in 2010. And George Washington Community, with a rate of just 47 percent in 2009, reached 68.4 percent last spring.

It’s easiest to quantify the change with those statistics, but it’s exciting to realize that those percentage points represent real young people who, by graduating from high school, are less likely to be unemployed, poor, incarcerated or single mothers than they would have been had they dropped out of school.

There are lots of reasons for the changes and they probably vary by school district, maybe even by school. It’s my sense, however, that change is coming because more and more people – including you, because you’re reading this – recognize that we cannot and must not throw our kids away. We cannot and must not consign them to sad, unfulfilled, difficult lives.

We can and must do everything in our power to provide them with the solid foundation on which they can build. Every day, I see parents who recognize this duty and step up to it.

Did your child’s school post a higher graduation rate in 2010 than in 2009? What do you think made the difference? If your school’s rate declined, was that just a quirk, or has something gone awry? Post your thoughts here.

The Indiana Partnerships Center encourages and enables parents to engage with their child’s school, to the mutual benefit of the child and the school.  The center, which serves all of Indiana, is one of 62 Parental Information Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement.

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