Graduation success story
Laser-like focus on improving the graduation rate has produced good results in high schools across the country. According to data released Monday, the percentage of students graduating in four years has topped 80 percent for the first time in U.S. history and could hit 90 percent by 2020.
That’s a significant jump — from 71.7 percent in 2001 to 81 percent in 2012, according to the Build a Grad Nation report.
Now, what will it take to close the gap and make sure virtually every teenager earns a high school diploma?
Rowan-Salisbury schools have been part of this national success story. Some 82.9 percent of Rowan-Salisbury students who entered as freshman in 2009 graduated in 2013. Kannapolis City Schools’ four-year graduation rate rose to 84.9 percent. Both topped the statewide rate of 82.5 percent.
Even as the America’s Promise Alliance on Monday touted the progress made over the past decade, it raised concerns about the students who still are opting out of high school before graduation day. Graduation rates for low-income students range from 58 percent to 85 percent. In a letter included in the report, Gen. Colin Powell and wife Alma Powell, key figures in the organization, said the push is far from over.
“Despite our gains, far too many young people still do not earn a high school diploma, and the number of non-graduates remains alarmingly high among young people of color and those from low-income communities,” the Powells said. “In other words, a young person’s chances for success still depend too much on his or her zip code and skin color and too little on his or her abilities and effort.”
And too many students who do graduate are nevertheless unprepared for higher education and the workforce.
Raising the rate further and making sure a diploma means something may be the schools’ greatest challenges — even as they race to update curriculum, stay abreast of technology and address the countless other issues public schools face today.
The schools deserve the public’s appreciation for the progress they have made in the graduation rate — and our support for taking the steps necessary to keep pushing for higher numbers and better results. While some people make hay out of bashing the public schools, the schools are busy preparing children for the future.