The State Department of Education is encouraged by the increase, but says a wide graduation-proficiency gap and high college remediation rates show Maine schools must prioritize proficiency
AUGUSTA – Maine’s high school graduation rate continues to climb with 86.36 percent of all students who entered the ninth grade in the fall of 2009 earning their diplomas on time in 2013, but State education officials stress that proficiency must be the top priority.
That rate is among the top 15 in the nation, which reflects a rise of more than a full percentage point each year since it was at 80.3 percent in 2009-2010 when the current calculation method was first used.
Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier congratulated Maine schools and students for the continued improvement in the graduation rate, but stressed the state’s focus must be on ensuring students are truly college and career ready when they leave Maine public schools.
As of 2018, Maine high schools will award proficiency-based diplomas that require students to demonstrate mastery of the state’s learning standards in critical content areas like math and reading. The gap between the percentage of students who graduate and those who are proficient in math and reading is now around 37 percent, and a third of graduates who go onto college in Maine need basic remedial courses.
“While I am encouraged to see a continually climbing graduation rate, it’s more important to me that our college and career readiness rates are also rising,” said Commissioner Rier. “As Maine moves toward awarding diplomas based on proficiency rather than time served, students can be more confident the diplomas they’ve earned signify they are adequately prepared for success at the next step.”
Of Maine’s 133 high schools, 73 improved their four-year graduation rate from 2012 to 2013 and 60 did not.
The State is working toward a goal of having a 90 percent graduation rate, and 45 high schools met or exceeded that in 2013, including North Haven Community School, Saco Transition Program, Rangeley Lakes Regional School, East Grand School, Mt Abram Regional High School, Erskine Academy, SAD 70 Hodgdon High School, Cape Elizabeth High School, Houlton High School, Yarmouth High School, York High School, Wells High School and Calais Middle/High School, which all boasted rates above 95 percent.
York County has the highest four-year graduation rate at 89.86 percent, followed by Washington County with 89.29 percent and Franklin County with 88.6 percent. Androscoggin County had the state’s lowest at 77.94 percent.
The five-year graduation rate for the 2012 graduating class cohort was also up slightly to 87.39 percent.
The Class of 2013 was the smallest in recent years, down to 12,792 students from 13,042 in 2012, which mirrors declining overall public school enrollment.
While members of the Class of 2014 are getting ready to graduate in just two months, graduation rate data for the Class of 2013 only recently became publicly available due to the reporting and review cycle at the State and local levels.
To see Maine high school graduation data, visit the Maine Department of Education’s transparent online Education Data Warehouse at http://www.maine.gov/doe/dataresources/.