PBC high school graduation rate jumps by nearly 3 points

2014 Dreyfoos graduation

Palm Beach County public schools’ graduation rate jumped by nearly 3 percentage points last year, the largest single-year increase in the past four years, newly released state figures show.

The boost brings the county’s high school graduation rate to a historical high of 82.3 percent. The rate, up from 79.4 percent in 2015, includes all of the school district’s high schools and independently run charter schools.

The jump mirrors a nearly identical spike in the statewide rate, which rose by 2.8 percentage points to 80.7 percent across Florida.

Source: Florida Department of Education

Source: Florida Department of Education

Graduation rates have been increasing steadily across Florida and the rest of the country in recent years. Since 2012, the county’s graduation rate has increased by more than 5 percentage points.

Palm Beach County continues to best Florida’s other large counties and the state overall in the percentage of students who graduate.

The biggest improvements were at John I. Leonard, Palm Beach Lakes and Glades Central high schools, which each saw their rates rise by about 10 percentage points.

The graduation rates fell at three of the school district’s traditional schools: Lake Worth , Pahokee and Atlantic high schools.

The graduation rate for the county’s charter schools – many of which serve at-risk teens – continued to be far lower than rate for district-operated schools. The percentage of students graduating from district-operated schools rose to 88.3 percent while the charters’ rate dropped slightly to 39.4 percent.

Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa attributed the county’s overall jump to “a heightened level of attention” at the high school level to the key indicators that a student may be at risk of not graduating, such as a high number of suspensions or absences.

Graduation rates rose across all racial demographics, but the biggest jumps were among black students – a 4.6-point jump to 73.7 percent compared to a 2.2-point increase to 90.7 percent for whites. Avossa said that progress would help to close the persistent achievement gap between white and minority students.

“We’re raising the bar and we’re closing the gap,” he said.  “All the hard work that we’re doing is starting to pay off for all students, not just some.”

The county school board’s new strategic plan, approved in March, calls for the graduation rate to rise to 90 percent by 2021.

You can find more information about county schools’ graduation rates here.

 

 

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