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New Report Shows Graduation Rates Stagnant in Ohio

Ohio has one of the highest rates of students attending charter and online schools who don't graduate. (Pixabay)
Ohio has one of the highest rates of students attending charter and online schools who don't graduate. (Pixabay)
May 31, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It's high school graduation time across Ohio, but a new report suggests the state's graduation rate may not be something to celebrate.

The 2016 "Building a Grad Nation" report shows the national graduation rate hit a record high of 82.3 in 2014.

Lead author Jennifer DePaoli with the group Civic Enterprises says while Ohio's rate of 81.8 percent is high, it has remained stagnant for several years. She notes there also are disparities in graduation rates among student subgroups.

"Ohio has the third largest gap between black and white students,” she points out. “The seventh largest gap between Latino and white students. And Ohio has the eighth largest gap between low-income and non-low-income students."

DePaoli says the findings suggest more work is needed to reach a national goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by the Class of 2020.

To ensure more students get there, the report offers recommendations, including ending zero tolerance discipline policies, expanding early warning indicators, and making school funding more equitable.

The report also shows more than half of low-graduation rate high schools in the country are
charter, virtual and alternative schools. And DePaoli says Ohio has one of the highest rates of non-graduates in its charter and online schools.

"Some of these schools are actually doing really well in other states, and even within Ohio there are charter schools that are doing very well. But there's a large number that are really struggling to graduate students on time," she states.

DePaoli recommends policymakers in Ohio develop ways to give students the resources and support they need to ensure success.

"We can't just start alternative pathways and expect them to answer the problem,” she stresses. “We have to make sure that students have engagement opportunities. We have to make sure that not only their academic needs are being met, but their social and emotional needs are being met."

The report analyzed data using new criteria from the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed by President Barack Obama last year. The law is focused on fully preparing all students for success in college and careers.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH