Graduation Rate Jumps But Still Trails Nation

July 12th, 2013

Category: Postsecondary Success

Delaware’s graduation rate jumped up to 73.9%* for the class of 2010 according to EdWeek’s yearly Diplomas Count report, an increase of six percentage points from the 67.9% reported for the class of 2009. This is certainly good news, but we should be cautious of celebrating too soon.

While this improvement represents the largest we have seen in the past decade, our graduation rate still trails the national average of 74.7%, putting us at #31 in the nation, behind the neighboring states of Maryland (78.6%), Pennsylvania (83.0%), and New Jersey (83.1%).

The national report is cautiously optimistic, celebrating the fact that almost three quarters of our nation’s students graduate while lamenting the roughly one million a year who leave high school without a diploma. EdWeek reporters found that most efforts in the past have focused on preventing students from dropping out as opposed to “recovering” dropouts, although there are signs that the recent economic downtown has helped to spur new efforts by states, districts, and nonprofits to address the needs of these students.

In Delaware, recent efforts have focused on both sides of the spectrum. Initiatives at the state level such as statewide SAT testing and improved data systems and student tracking show signs of promise, while localized efforts such as expansion of dual enrollment and new charter high schools targeting high-risk populations may help continue the state’s upward trajectory. Meanwhile districts have taken advantage of advancements in personalized learning technologies and the availability of MOOCs (online courses) to expand their credit recovery programs. More data will need to be gathered to determine how effective these efforts are.

One initiative in particular may help state and local leaders gain a better insight into how to improve our students’ college readiness. Next week the Harvard Strategic Data Project will release its College Going Diagnostic which aims to provide a more detailed look into how prepared our students are for college. Be sure to check back on our blog for more details when the report is available.


*The report uses the Cumulative Promotion Index to calculate graduate rates, a methodology that is different from the one used by the Delaware Department of Education, which uses the federally mandated ESEA adjusted formula. More info can be found here.

Brian Yin



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