The Washington Post’s Alejandra Mastos reveals today that the four year graduation rate for high school students enrolled in DCPS jumped to 71 percent in 2016, coming in just shy of Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s strategic plan goal for next year of 75 percent. In 2015, DCPS saw the graduation rate rise an equally impressive 6 percentage points. The exciting news comes on Ms. Henderson’s last day on the job.
Commenting on the results, according to Ms. Mastos, the Chancellor stated, “When we set these goals, people said we were crazy. . . As I walk out of here at the end this week, I want people to feel a sense of possibility.”
Ms. Henderson probably did appear crazy when she established the 75 percent goal. In November 2010 when she started in her position the four year graduation statistic was 59 percent.
Charter schools have yet to release their most recent graduation rate number. Last year it stood at 72 percent. There was a significant difference between charters and DCPS when it came to four year high school graduation rates for economically disadvantaged students. For charters this number was 73 percent for the 2014-2015 academic year versus 64 percent for the traditional system. This year’s number for those living in poverty is not included in the Washington Post story or on the DCPS website.
In fact, Ms. Henderson is close to meeting many of the components of her five year strategic plan. Student satisfaction with their school rose to 83 percent in the 2014-2015 term, with 90 percent being the goal. Enrollment for the same period at slightly over 49,000 pupils almost met the 2016 to 2017 50,000 student count target.
The one area where the Chancellor falls short is in regard to student academic achievement. There are two metrics here. One was to have 70 percent of students proficient in reading and math by the 2016 to 2017 school year, and that the 40 academically lowest performing schools will increase proficiency by 40 percentage points. These metrics were based upon the DC CAS standardized test. Now both DCPS and charters have switched to the PARCC. On the PARCC exam 25.5 percent of DCPS students were rated proficient.
Still, the four year graduation number is great news and stunning progress for a Chancellor who I will sincerely miss.