NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Seventy-seven percent of Louisiana high school students graduated on time last year - a half-percentage point dip from 2015 but still well above the roughly 65 percent rate 10 years earlier, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Education.
The department said 43 percent of the class of 2016 graduated with early college credit or some type of credential valued in industry - enhancing their future employment possibilities. That was a 6 percent increase from 2013.
In a telephone news conference, state Superintendent of Education John White said the latest figures show long-term improvements in graduation rates are being sustained. “We’re moving toward a greater graduation rate and a greater education level for students,” he said.
Still, White said, too many students don’t graduate. And gaps that separate the student population at large from low-income students, black students and those with disabilities persist. The graduation rates for African-American students and economically disadvantaged students were both a little over 71 percent for 2016 - close to 6 points behind the overall rate. For students with disabilities, the rate was just over 45 percent.
White said state and local education leaders will have to provide a greater variety of courses and services to students in groups that are still behind in graduation rates. He noted that many of the individual schools with low graduation rates serve high percentages of disadvantaged students - although he noted that some such schools are doing well, with rates above the state average. He said the state is developing and implementing policies to help those struggling schools, outlined in the state’s plan to comply with requirements in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
Also of note in the figures released Friday:
- Some districts that have had steady improvement and high graduation rates saw a decline. Red River Parish in west Louisiana had seen an increase from below 54 percent to nearly 89 percent from 2006 to 2015. For 2016 the rate was below 79 percent.
- New Orleans schools have seen a graduation-rate drop from nearly 78 percent in 2012 to around 72 percent - a challenge the Orleans Parish School Board will have to meet as it regains control of dozens of schools that the state Recovery School District took over after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. The schools are to be under local control again by as early as mid-2018.
- Catahoula Parish in east-central Louisiana has seen steady improvement in graduation rates. With a rate of just over 87 percent this year, the parish has seen a jump of nearly 20 percent since 2012.
Department of Education release with links to graduation statistics:
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