High school graduation percentage drops in DC

Wilson High School. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Wilson High School. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

By: Davis Kennedy

Last June, 68.5% of the students who entered public high schools four years earlier graduated, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. This is down from 72.4% the previous year and from 69.2% in June of 2016. The graduation rate for the charter schools was 72.4%, down one percent from the previous year.

“The results,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser, “reinforce what we know – even though we’ve come a long way, we have more work to do.” In June of 2011, the rate was 58.58% for public schools.

“By creating solutions that work for our students and communities,” she said, “together, we will overcome long standing challenges and make continuous improvement.” Of the 4,863 students who entered ninth grade in the 2014-15 school year, only 3,330 graduated high school last spring.

In the 2016-17 school year, the office found that public schools were not following their “own policies and local regulations in regards to the attendance and graduation of some students.” For the class of 2018, there were additional levels of verification of the public schools’ graduation results, with a focus on campuses where the previous year’s report “found significant issues.”

The office found that the public school system “is complying with their own policies and local regulation and that they have made improvements to ensure sound internal practice.”

Six public and public charter schools had graduation rate increases in the 2017-18 school year. Among them were KIPP DC College Preparatory Academy (85.1%), Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts (83.0%), Paul Public Charter School International High School (87.7%), Dunbar High School (85.7%), Eastern High School (82.2%), and Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School (98.5%).

Three high schools had 100% graduation rates for the first time: BASIS DC Public Charter School, The SEED Public Charter School, and Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Benjamin Banneker Academic High School had a 100% graduation rate since the 2012-13 school year.

The District uses the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, a federal government required methodology used across the country to maintain a standard for high school graduation rate reporting.