The Flagler County school district’s graduation rate was a record 89 percent last school year, the district and the Department of Education say, improving by 1 point over the previous year’s rate, which had also been a record.
Florida’s rate also broke a record–the state rate has risen annually since 2006–rising to 86.9 percent.
The graduation rate at Matanzas High School was 94 percent, a two-point improvement over last year. It was 86 percent at Flagler Palm Coast High School, same as last year.
Only 47 percent of Matanzas’s 427 students in the in the rate calculation (or “cohort’) are on free or reduced lunch–an indication of the students’ socio-economic background–while 62 percent of FPC’s 683 students in the cohort were. Poorer students are almost invariably more likely to drop out of school, take longer to graduate or fail to graduate. FPC had more than twice as many at-risk students as Matanzas did, though Matanzas’s at-risk students had a higher graduation rate among themselves. District-wide, the “economically disadvantaged rate” was flat, at 85 percent. (FPC also had 11 students to whom English was not a native tongue; their graduation rate was 64. Matanzas had no students in that group.)
There is also sharp disparity between boys and girls: among girls, 97 percent of Matanzas’ students graduated, and 91 percent of FPC’s did. Among boys, the rate was 91 at Matanzas and 82 at FPC.
Among special education students, the graduation rate at Matanzas was 86 percent. It was 73 percent at FPC.
“I am happy to see the graduation rate at an all-time high for the district,” School Board member Trevor Tucker said. “I believe there is still room for the graduation rate to rise. Th focus is now on all high school students the moment they fall behind, not just seniors. We may not see the results from a freshman that was behind until three years later. If the district keeps this as a focus, then we still have room to move the rate higher.”
District-wide the Hispanic graduation rate improved from 86 to 90 percent, up from 63 percent since 2014-15. It improved from 83 to 85 among African Americans, up from 63 percent five years ago.
“It’s important to look at the trends,” Flagler Schools Superintendent Jim Tager was quoted as saying in a district release. “That five-year growth trend has us encouraged. Our entire team is doing the right things for all our students in preparing them academically for life after they leave our school campuses.”
Florida’s high school graduation rate increased by 0.8 percentage points over the last year and has increased significantly during the past 15 years, rising from 59.2 percent in 2003-04 to 86.9 percent last year.
The graduation rate is a “cohort graduation rate,” as the state Department of Education defines it. A cohort is defined as a group of students on the same schedule to graduate. The graduation rate measures the percentage of students who graduate within four years of their first enrollment in ninth grade.
Subsequent to their enrollment in ninth grade, students who transfer out or die are removed from the calculation. Entering transfer students are included in the graduation rate for the class with which they are scheduled to graduate, based on their grade level when they enroll in the public school system. (Students taking longer than four years to graduate would be considered “nongraduates,” but not drop-outs. Summer graduates are counted if they graduate by the end of the current school year, which includes summer school, the Department of Education says.)
Federal regulations require each state to calculate a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, which includes standard diplomas but excludes GEDs, both regular and adult, and special diplomas. The U.S. Department of Education adopted this calculation method to develop uniform and comparable graduation rates across all states. The federal government required states to begin calculating the adjusted cohort graduation rate in 2010-11. This graduation rate is currently used in Florida’s school accountability system in the annual school grades calculation, produced each summer.