North Carolina reports highest-ever high school graduation rate
Posted August 8, 2013
Updated August 9, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The graduation rate for North Carolina high school students increased to 82.5 percent this year, the highest rate ever reported, the Department of Public Instruction said Thursday.
The rate has been climbing steadily since 2006, when the state first began reporting the number of students who complete high school in four years or less.
In 2006, the rate was 68.3 percent. Last year, the state cracked the 80 percent mark for the first time.
"Raising graduation rates begins in kindergarten and involves educators at every grade level. This is wonderful news for our principals, teachers, counselors and students," State Superintendent June Atkinson said in a statement. “Thanks to all of our educators for their hard work, and congratulations on this success.”
The department released the numbers during a presentation Thursday to the State Board of Education. Board Chairman Bill Cobey said the upward trend is one that board members want to see continued.
“Although it is important that we celebrate this success, we still have a ways to go to ensure that all our students graduate career- and college ready,” he said in a statement.
The state reported that five-year graduation rates also are improving, from 81.1 percent in 2011 to 83.1 percent in 2013.
Officials credited a number of initiatives for improving the odds of students sticking with school until graduation, including Early College High School, which allows students to earn two years of college credit by the time they get their diploma.
Officials also lauded Career and Technical Education courses, ninth-grade academies, career counseling and course credit recovery programs as helping to keep students in school. North Carolina's graduation rate puts the state in the middle of the pack when compared with the rest of the nation.
The report drew praise from Gov. Pat McCrory, who said the improvement is a testament to the hard work of teachers and principals. He also said the rising rates should be welcomed news to employers.
"For a thriving economy in North Carolina, we have to have students prepared to meet the needs of our workforce, and these graduation rates are a positive sign," McCrory said in a statement.
Durham Public Schools saw the biggest improvement of nearly 3 percent since last year, followed by Chapel Hill Carrboro Schools, which posted a 2.5 percent percent gain.
The Orange County School system was the only one in the Triangle to see a decline. The rate slipped nearly 3 percent.
In Wake County, the four-year graduation rate improved slightly in the past year, from 80.6 percent to 81 percent. Wake schools Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said she wants to see more progress.
"Graduation rate is a key indicator of our success as a school system, pre-K through 12," Moore said in a statement. "Overall, the district has made some progress, but not at the rate we would like to see. We will be working with our schools to ensure that district programming, resources and expectations at all levels are clearly aligned to support an increased graduation rate.”
Statewide, graduation rates improved across every category except among students with limited English proficiency. The four-year rate for that group fell from 55 percent in 2006 to 48.8 percent this year.
The highest gain overall was among Hispanic students, who improved their graduation rate by 23 percent in the last six years.
Students classified as "economically disadvantaged" also made significant strides, improving their graduation rate by 20.5 percent in the last six years.
Among the race categories in the report, Asian students had the highest graduation rate at 90 percent this year.
The report also shows more girls than boys earn their diploma year after year.