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Report: 4 of 5 Hawaii high school students graduate

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:45 p.m. HST, Apr 28, 2014

High school graduation rates in Hawaii are among the nation's most equitable across race and class, a report on graduation rates nationwide found.

Department of Education data compiled in the report, "Building a Grad Nation," show that in 2012, U.S. graduation rates topped 80 percent for the first time. Hawaii's rate was slightly higher, at 82 percent.

More distinctively, Hawaii's graduation rates were steady across race, class or disability.

-- The state graduated 79 percent of its white students and 76 percent of its black students. That 3 percentage-point difference was the smallest in the country. Hawaii's gap between white (79 percent) and Hispanic students' (76 percent) graduation rates, also three points, was the country's third-smallest in that category.

-- Hawaii's students with disabilities also graduated in relatively high numbers (74 percent). Their rate trailed the state's overall graduation rate by just 8 percentage points, third-lowest in the country.

-- Hawaii graduated 80 percent of its low-income students, the fourth-highest rate in the country. Only one state, Indiana, had a smaller difference between the rate of its low-income students and the overall rate. The gap in Hawaii was 2 percentage points; nationwide, the average was 15 percentage points.

Hawaii has a unique system of funding schools. It's the only state that runs and pays for its public schools at the state level, rather than at the local level. That ensures a given school's funding doesn't depend on a community's tax revenue.

-- Faring less well in Hawaii were students with limited English proficiency. Only 56 percent of them graduated, and the 26 percentage point gap between them and Hawaii's overall graduation rate was the 13th-highest in the country.

A spokesman for the state Department of Education last week declined to comment on the report, saying officials there first would have to review its data.

According to the report, U.S. public high schools have reached a milestone, an 80 percent graduation rate. Yet that still means 1 of every 5 students walks away without a diploma.

Citing the progress, researchers are projecting a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020.

Their report, based on Education Department statistics from 2012, was presented Monday at the Building a GradNation Summit.

The growth has been spurred by such factors as a greater awareness of the dropout problem and efforts by districts, states and the federal government to include graduation rates in accountability measures. Among the initiatives are closing "dropout factory" schools.

In addition, schools are taking aggressive action, such as hiring intervention specialists who work with students one on one, to keep teenagers in class, researchers said.

Growth in rates among African-American and Hispanic students helped fuel the gains. Most of the growth has occurred since 2006 after decades of stagnation.

"At a moment when everything seems so broken and seems so unfixable ... this story tells you something completely different," said John Gomperts, president of America's Promise Alliance, which was founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and helped produce the report.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday the country owes a debt of gratitude to teachers, students and families whose hard work helped the country reach the 80 percent mark.

"But even as we celebrate this remarkable achievement, our students have limitless potential and we owe it to all of our children to work together so they all can achieve at higher levels," Duncan said in a statement.

The rate of 80 percent is based on federal statistics primarily using a calculation by which the number of graduates in a given is year divided by the number of students who enrolled four years earlier. Adjustments are made for transfer students.

In 2008, the Bush administration ordered all states to begin using this method. States previously used a wide variety of ways to calculate high school graduation rates.

Iowa, Vermont, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Texas ranked at the top with rates at 88 percent or 89 percent. The bottom performers were Alaska, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and Nevada, which had rates at 70 percent or below.

Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma were not included because these states received federal permission to take longer to roll out their system.

The new calculation method allows researchers to individually follow students and chart progress based on their income level. By doing so, researchers found that some states are doing much better than others in getting low-income students -- or those who receive free or reduced lunch meals -- to graduation day.

Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and Kansas, for example, have more than half of all students counted as low income but overall graduation rates that are above average. In contrast, Minnesota, Wyoming and Alaska have a lower percentage of low-income students but a lower than average overall graduation rate.

Graduation rates increased 15 percentage points for Hispanic students and 9 percentage points for African American students from 2006 to 2012, with the Hispanic students graduating at 76 percent and African-American students at 68 percent, the report said. To track historic trends, the graduation rates were calculated using a different method.

Also, there were 32 percent fewer "dropout factories" -- schools that graduate less than 60 percent of students -- than a decade earlier, according to the report. In 2012, nearly one-quarter of African-American students attended a dropout factory, compared with 46 percent in 2002. About 15 percent of Hispanic students attended one of these schools, compared with 39 percent a decade earlier. There were an estimated 1,359 of these schools in 2012.

Robert Balfanz, a researcher with the Everyone Graduates Center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University who was a report author, said some of these schools got better. Other districts closed these schools or converted them to smaller schools or parents and kids voted with their feet and transferred elsewhere.

If the graduation rate stayed where it was in 2001, 1.7 million additional students would not have received a diploma during the period, Balfanz said.

"It's actually a story of remarkable social improvement, that you could actually identify a problem, understand its importance, figure out what works and apply it and make a difference," Balfanz said.

In New Hampshire, where the graduation rate is 86 percent, Anne Grassie, a state representative and former longtime member of the Rochester School Board, cites a change in state law in 2007 that raised the dropout age to 18. In Rochester, she said there have been numerous initiatives such as programs that allow students who fail classes to begin making them up online or after school instead of waiting for summer school and an alternative school for at-risk students.

"We pay more attention to just making sure there's an adult to connect with every child, so they know someone's there for them," Grassie said. "I think those kinds of initiatives have a lot to do with kids staying in school, but it's a combination of things. It's not really one thing."

Among the advice offered by report authors to get the nation's graduation rate to 90 percent:

--Don't forget California. With 13 percent of the nation's schoolchildren and 20 percent of low-income children living in California, the state must continue to show growth. The state's overall rate was 79 percent compared with 73 percent for the state's low-income students.

--Improve outcomes for special education students. Students with disabilities make up about 15 percent of students nationally but have a graduation rate 20 percentage points lower than the overall average. The rate for students with disabilities varies by state, with a rate or 24 percent in Nevada and 81 percent in Montana.

--Focus on closing racial and income gaps.

--Think big cities. Most big cities with high concentrations of low-income students still have graduation rates in the 60s or lower, the report said.

In addition to America's Promise Alliance and Balfanz's center, the report was produced by the public policy firm Civic Enterprises and the education group Alliance for Excellent Education.


Online: http://gradnation.org

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Cricket_Amos wrote:
Some misinformation: "Hawaii has a unique system of funding schools. It's the only state that runs and pays for its public schools at the state level, rather than at the local level." Well, not quite. It's complicated, but basically California pays for its schools at the state level. When local funding was based fundamentally on local property taxes it was seen to be unfair because rich school districts had more for their students. This ended quite a long time ago. Questionable goals? "the nation's most equitable across race and class" The word "equitable" is used to day to justify handing out stuff based on race and gender rather than achievement. A better word, without the agenda subtext, would have been "equal".
on April 28,2014 | 06:53AM
keola2011 wrote:
huh? Hawaii is the ONLY state that funds public schools at the state level. You state its misinformation but don't explain what is so misinforming about it. It's not complicated at all. The department of education oversees all 283 public schools. Period.
on April 28,2014 | 09:08AM
Cricket_Amos wrote:
It has to do with funding, which is the critical factor. Previously in California, schools were directly funded by local property taxes. This meant that schools in rich nbhds were much better since they had more money. Now the property taxes go to the state and it allocates money on a per student basis to all districts. Formulae are involved on how this happens (the complicated part), which is not so different from Hawaii.
on April 28,2014 | 11:58AM
ryan02 wrote:
I know this is nit-picking, but shouldn't the headline be "4 out of 5 . . . students GRADUATE" (instead of "graduates")?
on April 28,2014 | 06:54AM
kiheilocal wrote:
Not nitpicking...the headline mistake accentuates the subject. So sad!
on April 28,2014 | 07:05AM
Larry01 wrote:
Yep, I noticed that, too. Ridiculous.
on April 28,2014 | 07:11AM
tiwtsfm wrote:
Not nitpicking, just precise. Perhaps you attended school somewhere other than Hawaii?
on April 28,2014 | 07:20AM
tiwtsfm wrote:
It is shameful that Hawaii graduates only 82%of their students. Come on DOE surely we can do better, considering the large amount of money that is poured into the system. Our children are bright and competent, and have tremendous potential. If only the DOE would consider each child's individual needs instead of forcing them into the one-size-fits-all system. Hawaii's schools, especially the high schools are a mine field of wasted potential.
on April 28,2014 | 07:18AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/28/us-high-school-graduation-rate_n_5226053.html tiwtsfm, I know you'd like to denigrate Hawaii's high school graduation rate, but too bad. The U.S. graduation rate is 80%. If you can find it in your heart, give a hooray for Hawaii's 82% rate, which is higher than the national average.
on April 28,2014 | 08:54PM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 28,2014 | 07:22AM
what wrote:
I had the same type of reaction. I was thinking it must be easier to graduate now.
on April 28,2014 | 06:30PM
kekelaward wrote:
They are letting them graduate just to inflate the stats. Some of them still don't have the skills needed to get a $10.10 an hr job.
on April 28,2014 | 07:58AM
DiverDave wrote:
"Faring less well in Hawaii were students with limited English proficiency" who are they talking about? And, I didn't see any mention of Polynesian-Hawaiians, or are they in this "limited English proficiency" grouping?
on April 28,2014 | 08:26AM
keola2011 wrote:
Limited English proficiency is referring someone which English is not the first language.
on April 28,2014 | 09:10AM
DiverDave wrote:
So does that include Polynesian-Hawaiians or not?
on April 28,2014 | 01:08PM
8082062424 wrote:
sorry to disappoint no its not. they did not mention Asians either
on April 28,2014 | 01:56PM
DiverDave wrote:
That's good because I've read many times from "Hawaiian Immersion School" administrators that they don't learn the same as all other races do and need their own schools. I guess then that that's a fallacy.
on April 28,2014 | 02:07PM
Nevadan wrote:
DOE is not doing its job. If only it would lower the standard even more, everyone will graduate !! (pardon the sarcasm)
on April 28,2014 | 09:34AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Did the alleged graduates do so academically or socially? It has been a long standing practice in public schools to pass failing students to the next higher grade and to graduate failing students so as not to stigmatize them. The students get diplomas but can’t understand the words written thereon. I believe the practice still is widespread which makes the report data meaningless.
on April 28,2014 | 09:38AM
samidunn wrote:
4 out of 5 that means 80 out of 100 right?
on April 28,2014 | 09:50AM
HOSSANA wrote:
ha..ha...how many of those 82% of Hawaii students that graduate can read or write or do both.....or maybe I should write the sentence as follows: Hou maney of dose 82% of Hawaii studonts dat gradate kan reed or rite or boat???
on April 28,2014 | 11:04AM
iwanaknow wrote:
Why you making fun of us grils n' boyz?
on April 28,2014 | 12:40PM
SteveToo wrote:
But can they all read at a 12th grade level? Same for doing math and knowing anything about history and science?
on April 28,2014 | 12:35PM
sailfish1 wrote:
That's rather pathetic - 4 out of 5 students graduate high school and Hawaii is PROUD of that? In Japan and South Korea, the only students that don't graduate high school are SOME of those who have a mental deficiency. Even most of them graduate.
on April 28,2014 | 01:05PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
sailfish, 82% Hawaii's rate is higher than the nation's rate. So are you proud of that, or you want 100%? If so, tell the losers who do and don't attend school to show up in class and make a concerted effort to graduate. And of course, 100% is unobtainable, what with students who don't want to be there flunk or drop out.
on April 28,2014 | 09:01PM
frontman wrote:
Finish the story.....................they score 675 on the SAT and that is after thy are taught the test before taking it.
on April 28,2014 | 07:52PM
Hookele wrote:
How many other States have two classes of schools (public, where most of us attend, and private, where the vast majority of families who can afford to--including a majority of families where one or both parents are employed by the Hawaii DOE--send their kids)? What is the graduation rate at public schools vs. private schools in Hawaii? A lot more information is needed to make these statistics meaningful.
on April 28,2014 | 09:07PM
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