Maine high school graduation rate up, achievement gaps down

Newly released state and federal data shows Maine is closing achievement gaps as graduation rates among economically disadvantaged students, those with disabilities and some minorities are on the rise and above national averages

AUGUSTA – Maine’s high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, as has the percentage of students who are either economically disadvantaged or have a disability and are earning their diploma in four years.

According to newly released data from the Maine Department of Education, 86.48 percent of the students who entered the ninth grade in the fall of 2010 graduated on time in 2014. That’s up just slightly from 86.36 percent in 2013 and well above the 80.3 percent graduation rate reached in 2009-2010 when the current calculation method was introduced.

In announcing the rising rate, Maine’s Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin said he is especially encouraged to see the state make such progress in narrowing achievement gaps though he urged more work must be done.

“All children can learn and deserve equal opportunity to do so in our schools,” Desjardin said. “I want to thank Maine’s educators for their hard work in supporting an increasing number of historically academically disadvantaged students find success. Moving forward, we must continue to improve both our graduation rate and the value of the diplomas awarded by our schools so that every student leaves with the foundation they need to achieve their full potential.”

The four-year graduation rate is up to 77.82 percent for economically disadvantaged students, an increase from 76.9 percent in 2013 and 75.7 percent in 2012 and above the national average of 73.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the graduation rate for students with disabilities continues to climb and was at 70.97 in 2014, much higher than the national average of 61.9 percent.

Graduation rates for Maine’s two largest minority student groups are also up over the last three years.

Black students showed the greatest growth with a graduation rate of 79.18 percent, up significantly from 71.98 percent in 2012. The graduation rate among Asian students is up to 94.42 percent from 89.06 percent in 2012. The graduation rate for Hispanic students, the third largest school-aged minority in Maine, has shown a concerning decline to 71.12 percent from 79.14 percent just three years ago.

According to the most recent national data from the U.S. Department of Education, which was released earlier this month but is based on the Class of 2013, Maine’s four-year graduation rate is the 10th highest in the country and well above the national average of 81.4 percent. Meanwhile, Maine is 6th in the nation for its limited English proficiency graduation rate, 12th for its economically disadvantaged student graduation rate and 14th for its graduation rate among students with disabilities.

As the state’s high schools work toward beginning to award diplomas based on student proficiency rather than time served starting in 2018, the Maine DOE continues to aspire to having a 90 percent graduation rate. In 2014, 49 of the state’s 134 high schools met or exceeded that goal.

In total, 70 schools improved their four-year graduation rate from 2013 to 2014 and 76 improved their five-year graduation rate.

The Class of 2014 was the smallest in recent years, down to 12,362 students from 12,792 students in 2013, which mirrors declining overall public school enrollment in the state.

The five-year graduation rate for Maine’s 2013 graduating class cohort was also up more than a full point to 88.78 percent.

To see Maine high school graduation data, visit the Maine Department of Education’s transparent online education Data Warehouse at


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