2012 graduation rate increases from prior year

April 18, 2013
Tony Evers

State Superintendent
Tony Evers

Wisconsin’s four-year graduation rate is up one-half a percentage point for 2012 from the prior year’s rate, continuing a trend of steady improvement in high school completion. The state’s graduation rate is among the highest in the nation; tied for second in the most recent (2010-11)school year data reported by the U.S. Department of Education.
“Congratulations to the class of 2012 with 87.5 percent of students earning a high school diploma in four years,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Graduating from high school is a milestone; it opens doors to success through further training or education for careers and civic life.”
Wisconsin usesthe uniform federal four-year adjusted cohort rate to calculate graduation rates. The 2009-10 school year, the first to provide enough years of quality data for the calculation, showed 85.7 percent of students graduated after four years of high school compared to the 2012 rate of 87.5 percent. Because the adjusted cohort rate is based on longitudinal data, the DPI also produces a five-year and, for the first time, a six-year cohort graduation rate.
These rates honor the additional effort many students make to complete their high school education as well as obligations under special education law and the Wisconsin Constitution. The 2012 five-year and six-year cohort graduation rates are both 90.4 percent. They represent the number of students earning a diploma five and six years after entering high school.
“Focusing on college and career readiness helps students put their education into context,” Evers said. “Our 68,639 graduates from the class of 2012 have left high school to pursue further education or enter the workforce, and in the coming years they will be forming families and becoming leaders in their communities and our nation.”
The legacy graduation rate, which has been used for many years, is 90.6 percent for 2012, up one-tenth of a percentage point from 2011. The legacy rate is no longer used for federal reporting. It is considered a snapshot of high school completion and is based on the number of graduates earning a regular high school diploma divided by the total number of students expected to complete high school .
From 2011 to 2012 cohort graduation rates improved for most subgroups of students. Between 2010 and 2012 gaps closed for most student groups, though data shows disparities in graduation rates by racial and ethnic groups as well as by economic status, disability, and English language proficiency. Because of race and ethnicity reporting changes in 2010-11, some caution should be used in comparing rates for those subgroups of students. Though most students graduate between the ages of 17 and 19, Wisconsin’s Constitution guarantees students a free appropriate public education through the age of 20. State law requires school districts to identify students who may not graduate from high school. Students in grades five through 12 are considered “at risk” if they have poor school attendance, low academic achievement, problems with high school credit accumulation, or other issues. These students, along with those who have dropped out, usually require additional services to complete their high school education.
“Most school districts have a variety of opportunities or alternative programs to help students who may not graduate,” Evers said. “However, cuts to public education funding through state budget action is making it increasingly difficult for schools to provide these services. We must have bipartisan cooperation to re-invest in education and our kids’ future.”

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