Graduation rates rise in Marion County, state

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Nearly 200 more students graduated from Marion County’s public high schools last year than in the previous year, pushing the county’s graduation rate up a notch, to 81.7 percent.

It was part of a statewide boost in graduation rates, which Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett hailed as his agency released graduation data for the 2010-11 school year on Tuesday.

“In today’s world, graduating from high school with a meaningful diploma is critical to achieving any measure of success in life,” Bennett said in a prepared statement. “To see so many more high school students reach this essential milestone is inspiring, and I am thankful for the hard-working teachers and leaders in our schools who helped them get there.”

The 11 traditional public school districts in Marion County recorded a graduation rate of 82.4 percent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points over the 2010.

Dragging down Marion County’s overall graduation rate were the eight Marion County charter high schools that have been educating students for at least four years. Collectively, they posted a graduation rate of 67.6 percent in 2011, down from 71.9 percent the previous year.

Charter schools are operated by private not-for-profit entities, but receive state funding for each student they enroll.

The state measures graduation rates by tracking the number of students who began in a district as freshman who graduated four years later. The data reported Tuesday include students who graduated on a waiver, which means they did not pass the state standardized tests required for graduation or did not complete the required coursework called Core 40, or both.

Statewide, 8 percent of students graduated on a waiver.

A total of 7,302 students graduated in Marion County last year, up from 7,106 the year before. Speedway High School had the highest graduation rate in the county, at 97.4 percent.

Statewide, public high schools posted a graduation rate of 85.7 percent, up by 1.6 percentage points from the previous year and up by 4.3 percentage points since 2009.

When Bennett took office in 2009, he set a goal to lift the state’s graduation rate to 90 percent by 2012.

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