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R.I. 2014 graduation rate rises, dropout rate declines

Improvements seen across student groups 

In a year of increased expectations for student achievement, the 2014 Rhode Island graduation rate rose to 81 percent, a 1-point improvement over the previous year and a 5.5-point improvement since 2009. 

The dropout rate declined to 8 percent, a 1-point improvement over the previous year and a 6-point improvement since 2009. 

“Our high-school students, teachers, and leaders deserve high marks for their tremendous efforts in raising our graduation rate,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “As we make creating opportunities for all Rhode Islanders a priority, we must continue this momentum to make sure our kids build the skills they need to compete in a 21st-century economy. Earning a high-school diploma is one important component to making our state stronger for everyone.” 

The improvements attained in 2014, especially in dropout rates, are consistent across a range of student groups. The dropout rate for black students, for example, (11.5 percent) marks a 6.5-point improvement since 2009. The dropout rate for Hispanic students (13 percent) marks a 10-point improvement since 2009. Similarly, since 2009, dropout rates for economically disadvantaged students have fallen by 8.5 points (to 12.5 percent), dropout rates for students with disabilities have fallen by 7 points (to 16 percent), and dropout rates for English learners have fallen by 10 points (to 14.5 percent).

“I am very pleased to see these across-the-board improvements in our graduation rates,” said Eva-Marie Mancuso, Chair of the Board of Education. “Our top priority is to prepare all of our students for success beyond high school, and we can see from the 2014 graduation rates that more of our students are persisting in school and earning a high-school diploma. I congratulate our students, parents, teachers, and all who help our students achieve success.”

“2014 was a year in which we raised expectations for our high-school students, so it is especially pleasing to note that in 2014 we continued the trend of improvement – raising our graduation rates and reducing our dropout rates,” said Patrick A. Guida, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “As we continue our transition to the Common Core State Standards and to new statewide assessments, I am confident that our students will continue to make progress and that our graduation rates will consistently improve. In addition, it is important to note that the Community College of Rhode Island reports that the number of its entering students in need of remedial classes was down significantly.”

“Our 2014 graduation rates and dropout rates show that, increasingly, students from across the state, whatever their background or circumstances may be, are staying in school and earning a high-school diploma,” said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We hold high expectations for our students, and our students have stepped up to meet this challenge. I am proud of their accomplishments, and I am confident that, every year, more of our graduates are ready for success in postsecondary education and in challenging careers.”

Recognizing that some students need more than the traditional four years to complete their schoolwork and earn a diploma, the R.I. Department of Education also calculates and reports the 5-year graduation rate. The 5-year graduation for 2014 improved by 3 points over the previous year and stands at 83.5 percent, a 5-point improvement since 2009. The 5-year graduation rate has also improved across student groups since 2009: up 5.5 points among black students (77 percent), up 7 points among Hispanic students (75 percent), up 2.5 points among students with disabilities (67 percent), up 11.5 points among English learners (80 percent), and up 7 points among economically disadvantaged students (75 percent).

Several high schools have attained 4-year graduation rates of 95 percent or higher in 2014, including the Block Island School, Classical High School (Providence), Cranston High School West, East Greenwich High School, and Portsmouth High School.

Several high schools improved their 4-year graduation by more than 5 percentage points over the past year, including East Providence High School, the New England Laborers’/Cranston Public Schools Construction & Career Academy, Tiverton High School, Toll Gate High School (Warwick), West Warwick Senior High School, and William E. Tolman Senior High School (Pawtucket). 

National information on the 2014 graduation rates is not yet available. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education released data on the 2013 graduation rates. Rhode Island, with a 2013 graduation rate of 80 percent, was 1 point below the national average and tied for 29th among all states. The Rhode Island graduation rate improved by 3 percentage points over the two-year span of the report, better than the 2-point improvement for the country as a whole. 

A report on the 2014 Rhode Island graduation and dropout rates is posted on the RIDE website.

Note: The annual graduation rate and dropout rate combined do not equal 100 percent of the graduating class. The remainder includes students who have entered GED programs and students who are still in school and striving to earn a diploma at a later date.