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Report: RI’s graduation rate “lagging”

March 19, 2012

A new report identifies Rhode Island as one of 10 states where high school graduation rates declined between 2002 and 2009. The study from the America’s Promise Alliance is part of a push to increase graduation rates around the country.

The researchers found that overall, 75 percent of American students completed high school on time in 2009, an increase of 3.5 percentage points from 2001. Leaders in the study include Wisconsin, with an impressive 90 percent graduation rate, andVermont, which wasn’t far  behind.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire also earned positive mentions for making moderate improvements in their high school completion rates.

In Rhode Island, the report suggests that graduation numbers declined slightly, by 0.4 percentage points . Rhode Island was one of 10 states where graduation rates fell and one of 26 states that saw little or no progress in graduation rates as measured by the researchers.

Connecticut fared even worse than Rhode Island, with graduation rates declining by 4.3 percentage points.

Rhode Island education officials point out that the America’s Promise report does not reflect the most recent data. The State Department of Education reported an average four-year graduation rate of 73 percent in 2008, which increased to 77 percent for the class of 2009.

It’s also worth noting that this report relies on a different method for calculating graduation rates  than the one Rhode Island uses. While the Rhode Island method is considered more accurate, only 35 states are currently using it, according to the researchers who compiled this report. To allow state-by-state comparisons, the report uses estimates based on the size of an incoming freshman class and the number of diplomas awarded four years later.

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