The Rhode Island Department of Education released a report that puts high school graduation rates among students at the national average.
A two percentage- point increase from 2015 sets graduation rates for 2016 at 85.3 percent.
The report says the achievement gap remains significant among black, Latino, and disabled students. Overall, rates in these groups increased or remained the same for 2016.
Stephanie Geller is a senior policy analyst with Rhode Island Kids Count, a children’s advocacy nonprofit. She attributes the graduation uptick to schools’ ability to identify students at risk of dropping out at a younger age.
“Examples of early warning signs include students who are not reading proficiently by the third grade,” said Geller.
Geller identified a statistic that says students who are not reading at grade level by the third grade are at four times the risk of dropping out of high school. By identifying those students early on, Geller says at risk children can get back on track to graduate.
According to Geller, statewide efforts to tackle chronic absenteeism and excessive suspension have also played a part in the graduation boost. Geller adds that a focus on creating engaging curriculum and the availability of advanced courses has also worked in students’ favor.
“Students see what they’re learning as relevant to them, connected to college and careers, and really helping them move towards their own personal post-secondary career goals,” explained Geller.
Rhode Island Kids Count will release a report next Monday further explaining how the state can improve high school graduation rates.