State dropouts rise, graduation rate steady
January 25, 2016
Data released last week by the Colorado Department of Education shows a slight increase in the state's high school dropout rate, the first uptick of its kind after eight straight years of declines.
The state's public schools experienced 568 more students dropping out in 2014-15 than in the prior school year, a 0.1-percentage point increase (2.5 compared to 2.4 in 2013-14). The dropout rate reflects the percentage of all students enrolled in seventh through 12th grade who leave school without transferring to another educational environment in a single school year.
"The department is concerned about the small increase in the dropout rate," said Gretchen Morgan, department interim associate commissioner of innovation, choice and engagement, in a news release. "We know that earning a diploma or GED can have a life-long impact on young people.
"We think there are important lessons to be learned from school and districts that continue to reduce dropout rates this year," she continued. "Now that the data is released, we will shift our focus to learning about those programs."
Meanwhile, the on-time graduation rate for the class of 2015 remained unchanged from 2014, at 77.3 percent, and there were 298 more graduates in the class of 2015 than the class of 2014.
The on-time graduation rate reflects the percentage of students from a given graduation class who receive a diploma within four years of completing eighth grade. A total of 144 (78 percent) Colorado school districts achieved a four-year on-time graduation rate at or above the state's expectation of at least 80 percent.
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The achievement gap in the state narrowed as well. The on-time graduation rate for minority students across the state rose 1.1-percentage points, from 69.2 to 70.3 percent — the first year the on-time graduation rate for minority students has been better than 70 percent.
Statewide, the on-time graduation for female students was 81.2 percent, compared to males at 73.6 percent. As an additional note, local school boards set their own graduation requirements and an exit criterion, which means expectations for earning a diploma may vary district to district.
Colorado has continued to keep students who fall short of graduation requirements enrolled beyond their fourth year of high school and moving them to graduate in five or six years.
"We continue to see value in offering additional time to students," said Morgan. "This year, as in past years, there are significant increases in graduation rates when we include students who graduate in their fifth and sixth year."
Of the 11,114 students who dropped out in 2014, 3,023 re-enrolled this academic year. This resulted in the graduation rate for the class of 2014 increasing 4.4-percentage points to 81.7 percent when given the additional year. The class of 2013 increased by 5.57-percentage points to 82.47 percent when including two extra years.
For more information and interactive tools and maps to better illustrate the respective dropout and graduation rates, visit: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/dropoutcurrent and http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/gradcurrent.htm.
Next steps in Summit superintendent search
The Summit School District's Board of Education met last Tuesday to continue discussing the selection process for filling the superintendent position with Heidi Pace retiring at the close of the school year.
Though additional details are yet to be determined, the board came to a unanimous decision to begin the process with an internal search, leaving the door open for an external search should that be necessary. The board expressed great confidence in district staff, and believes strong leaders within the organization could potentially fill the role.
Basic information regarding the position was posted on the district website last week. The job description is in the process of being updated and should be ready for review at the board's next regular business meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
The board is also working on identifying options for outside facilitation to guide the process. Stakeholder input will be part of the search.
Aspen school district ranked highly
Aspen School District ranks No. 24 on Business Insider's "2016 best school districts in America" top-25 list, making it the most highly ranked district in the state.
The rankings are based on findings from the group Niche, which researches and collects information on schools throughout the country. As one of the largest content startups in the U.S., Niche's database consisted of more than 12,000 school districts at the time of its calculation.
Niche derives its rankings on each school district's grade for overall experience. Those include factors such as academic strength, quality of staff, student life, school resources, student culture and diversity, and student and parent reviews.
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