State high school graduation rates drop slightly


March 9th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Information released Thursday by the Iowa Department of Education shows the state four-year graduation rate dropped by one-half percent in 2011. Jay Pennington is chief of the department’s Information and Analysis Bureau. “I think it is concerning that it dropped a half percent from this year to last year. This year’s class of 2011 is above the class of 2009. So that’s good, I think it means that we need to, not just as a state, but schools and districts to get as many kids as possible to complete within four years,” Pennington says. The statewide four-year graduation rate is 88-point-three- percent, compared to 88-point-eight-percent in 2010, and 87-point-three-percent in 2009. Locally, Atlantic’s graduation rate was just over 88%; AHST 86%; Anita 100%; Audubon 93%; Exira 83%; Griswold and Nodaway Valley 98%, and Harlan 95%.

“The state Board of Education has a stated goal of 95-percent of students graduating. I think that 95-percent is an ambitious goal, that goal was set several years ago, in the meantime the formula has changed slightly since that formula was set,” Pennington says. He says Iowa still has one of the top graduation rates in the nation. Five of the 10 largest school districts in the state — Sioux City, Waterloo, Iowa City, Council Bluffs and Cedar Rapids — saw an increase in graduation rates.

“Seeing those larger districts with an increase in percentage is good to see, I think we need to dig in a little bit more and see the majority of districts that did see a decline and see what kind of supports are needed there,” Pennington says. Storm Lake has the lowest four-year graduation rate at 57-point-four percent. Sigourney had the next lowest at 63-percent. The state saw virtually no change in the annual dropout rate and an increase in the statewide graduation rate for students who took an extra year to finish high school.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)

See the complete list of graduation rates on this Radio Iowa link: