Kentucky Improves High School Graduation Rates

by ekramer on October 16, 2009

A new study shows Kentucky has one of the highest high school graduation rates among Southern states, but it could still do more to improve them. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The Southern Regional Education Board is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that conducted the study (pdf file). The report shows Kentucky with a 77 percent graduation rate as compared to the national average of 73 percent in 2006.

Matthew Lenard is a researcher who worked on the study. He says Kentucky graduation rates grew by 7 points between 2002 and 2006 and that the state has other positive features.

“Kentucky has a very small percentage of so-called drop-out factories,” Lenard says. “They’ve only got, by last count, 17 high schools in which fewer than 60 percent of ninth graders make it to graduation on time.”

Despite recent gains, Lenard says Kentucky and other states have graduation rates that are roughly the same as those of the early 1990s — before rates dropped dramatically throughout the country.

The organization’s Alan Richard says Kentucky’s advances are mostly like tied to its efforts to strengthen education policies.

“Kentucky has been a leader in our region for many years in standards-based education reform; a lot of attention being brought to improving public schools statewide,” Richard says. “And just in the past year or two you’ve seen evidence of that in Kentucky with the senate bill that passed.”

Both say Kentucky and other states still have a lot of work to do to make sure that schools are accountable for graduating students and giving them the education they need for the 21st century economy.

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