PORTLAND, ME – Today, the New England Secondary School Consortium released its fifth annual report on public-school performance in New England. The report comprises findings from the Common Data Project, a collaboration between the state education agencies participating in the New England Secondary School Consortium: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Data specialists from these state agencies have been using consistent procedures and methodologies to collect, calculate, and report on student attainment data since the project’s advent in 2009.
The Consortium’s previous annual reports showed that graduation rates in Consortium states rose by nearly eight percentage points from 2009 to 2015. According to the report released today, those increased graduation rates remained stable across the region through the 2015–2016 school year.
The region’s steady graduation rates are particularly notable because Consortium member states have worked to implement more rigorous graduation requirements since 2009, raising graduation expectations for all students.
“At Windham High School, implementing a system of higher expectations has helped us become more clear on what is truly important for students to know and be able to do in order to graduate and succeed after high school,” says Chris Howell, principal of Windham High School in Maine. “We are able to support students in meeting those expectations in a variety of ways, and our graduation rates show that students are rising to the challenge.”
While none of the Consortium’s five member states has met the Consortium’s long-term goal of a 90 percent four-year high school graduation rate, this year’s report shows that when students were afforded six years to graduate from high school, rather than the traditional four, graduation rates in three states—Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont—surpassed the Consortium’s 90 percent graduation target.
Across Consortium states, when high school students were given six years to graduate, graduation rates increased for all student subgroups and persistent achievement gaps narrowed. The graduation rates for economically disadvantaged students, English Learners, and students with disabilities increased by a range of 3.6 percentage points to 12.8 percentage points, and the achievement gap between students in these subgroups and their peers narrowed by a range of 3.5 percentage points to 6.5 percentage points. In Connecticut, the statewide graduation rate increased by 4.3 percent when students were given six years to meet graduation requirements.
“These data suggest that providing extra time for students to master knowledge and skills can improve graduation rates for all students, especially students with the most need,” says David Ruff, executive director of the Great Schools Partnership. “As we continue to strive for an equitable education system that supports all students, our organization is committed to pursuing the potential benefits of affording students extra time to meet graduation expectations.”
The Common Data Project’s 2017 Annual Report: School Year 2015–2016, as well as the guidelines developed and followed by the project’s participating states, are publicly available on the New England Secondary School Consortium website: newenglandssc.org/resources/common-data-project
The New England Secondary School Consortium is a regional partnership working to advance forward-thinking innovations in secondary education that will empower the next generation of citizens, workers, and leaders. The Consortium is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and coordinated by the Great Schools Partnership.
Blythe Armitage, Public Engagement Associate
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