Published: Aug 02, 2012 11:09 AM
Modified: Aug 02, 2012 11:11 AM
More than 77 percent of Durham Public Schools students graduated from high school in four years, just slightly below the statewide graduation rate.
Figures released Thursday show that 80.2 percent of the state’s students graduated from high school in four years in 2012, up from 77.9 percent the year before. Education leaders say a variety of state and local efforts aimed at encouraging students to stay in school have helped raise the graduation rate by nearly 12 percentage points in the last six years.
“This is more solid proof that our public schools are definitely headed in the right direction,” said Bill Harrison, chairman of the State Board of Education, in a written statement. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us but the path we’re on is the right one for North Carolina.”
In the Durham Public Schools, 90.8 percent of white students graduated in four years, compared to 85.7 percent of Asian students, 78 percent of students of two or more races, 73.7 percent of black students and 64.5 percent of Hispanic students.
Among other Triangle school districts, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange, Johnston and Wake counties remain above the state average.
The state’s four-year graduation rate stood at 68.3 percent in 2006, the first year that North Carolina was required to report it under the federal No Child Left Behind program. Calls to raise the graduation rate spurred efforts such as adding more ninth-grade academies, where freshmen receive more individualized attention to help them transition into high school.
North Carolina’s graduation gains have attracted national attention.
A March report from the America’s Promise Alliance, a group founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, credited North Carolina as being one of the 12 states responsible for the majority of progress in increasing the nation’s graduation rate between 2001 and 2009. The report also found that North Carolina was among the top 15 states in reducing the number of students attending “dropout factories” — schools where fewer than 60 percent of students graduate.
The new graduation data came out the same day that education leaders released data showing how public schools fared on state tests for the 2011-12 school year. This year marks the 16th and last time that schools were evaluated under North Carolina’s “ABCs of Public Education” accountability program.
For the 2012-13 school year, a new statewide math and English curriculum is being implemented and new tests are being developed.
For the 2011-12 year, 79.5 percent of schools met or exceeded academic growth goals on state exams. That’s down from 81.4 percent from the past year.
The new ABCs report also showed that North Carolina benefited from a recent waiver from the U.S. Department of Education allowing relaxed standards for meeting No Child Left Behind. Previously, all subgroups had to meet the same proficiency target on exams for the whole school to pass. Now subgroups have different targets.
Under the new standards, 46.2 percent of North Carolina schools met all their objectives under No Child Left Behind. That compares to 27.9 percent in the 2010-11 school year under the old requirements.