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Graduation rates behind the nation


Our View

The national high school graduation rate increased by 7.3 percentage points between 1999 and 2009 but is virtually unchanged in Arkansas, according to an Education Week analysis.

The national high school graduation rate rose from 66 percent to 73.4 percent during the same decade. Arkansas’ graduation rate was 70.5 percent in 1999 and 70.6 percent in 2009, based on the analysis. We must do better.

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia had bigger increases than Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) uses a different methodology for calculating graduation rates than Education Week. The ADE’s methodology is based on a model used by the U.S. Department of Education. The department calculated the state’s 2009 graduation rate at 68 percent. The four Jefferson County districts had rates both above and below the state average for the three year period examined in the ADE data.

The Dollarway School District demonstrated an improvement in graduation rates from 65.4 percent in the 2008-09 school year to 72.8 percent in the 2009-10 school year and up to 74 percent for the 2010-11 school year, but below the state average.

The Pine Bluff School District saw 70.2 percent of its senior class graduate in the 2008-09 school year, 73.8 percent in the 2009-10 school year, and 66.7 percent graduate in the 2010-11 school year.

The Watson Chapel School District has seen graduation rates that exceed the state average, with 75.6 percent graduating in the 2008-09 school year, 84.7 percent in the 2009-10 school year and 83.5 percent in the 2010-11 school year.

The White Hall School District maintains the highest graduation rates in Jefferson County, with 87.6 percent graduating in the 2008-09 school year, 84.1 percent in the 2009-10 school year and 83.1 percent for the 2010-11 school year.

We must do better to compete in a global economy.