Maine grad rate improves

Still, too many students do not graduate in four years

AUGUSTA – The statewide average graduation rate for publicly funded high schools rose by more than two percentage points from 2009 to 2010. The percentage of students graduating in four years for the 2009-2010 school year was 82.82 percent. The rate includes 122 public high schools and 11 private high schools with more than 60 percent of students paid for with public funds.

Eighty-eight schools showed an increase in their graduation rate over the previous year, two showed no change, and 43 showed a decrease. Almost half of all the schools still have a graduation rate lower than 83 percent – the rate required to show Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

“Hopefully what we are seeing with this movement in the positive direction is the result of early efforts at implementing a performance-based educational system,” said Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen. “I believe, and the governor believes, that by setting rigorous standards and allowing students to move through school based on their mastery of skills – not based on arbitrary timelines and seat time – students will be more engaged, their needs will be more clearly met, and more of them will graduate.”

Bowen added, “While the data show a noticeable improvement over the previous year, we can’t be satisfied when nearly one out of five students who enters 9th grade does not graduate in four years.”

This is the second year in which Maine is reporting graduation rates based on the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, or ACGR method, now required of all states by the U.S. Department of Education. This method calculates the rate for a single “cohort” of students – that is, all the students who entered 9th grade at the same time and who graduated in no more than four years. The 2010 rate can be compared to the rate for 2009, but not previous years, as a different method was in use before then.

The Maine Department of Education supports the use of the new method but has also warned that it paints only part of the picture regarding a school’s success at helping students graduate. The rate under this method does not include students who graduate in five or six years, for example. It also does not include students who may come back to school later to earn a GED.

David Connerty-Marin | Maine Department of Education | 207-624-6880

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