Indiana graduation rates dipped in 2015, but remain mostly flat over five years

The percentage of Indiana students graduating high school in 2015 fell from the year before.

But the graduation rate—about one percentage point lower than 2014 across the state and in Marion County—is down only slightly from how the state has performed for the past five years.

Statewide, 88.9 percent of students graduated from high school, compared to 89.8 a year earlier. But graduation rates have only fluctuated by about 1 percentage point up or down since 2011.

“I am pleased with the progress that Indiana’s schools have made in recent years to increase the number of high school graduates,” state Superintendent Glenda Ritz said in a statement. “However, there is still work to be done to address the diverse needs of students across our state and to close the achievement gaps between student populations.”

Marion County schools did slightly worse with an 87 percent graduation rate in 2015, down about 1 percentage point from 2014. Both years, Indianapolis Public Schools had the lowest graduation rate among the county’s schools, and Speedway Schools had the highest graduation rate.

*Initial totals for Indianapolis Public Schools’ 2015 cohort, graduate and graduation rate columns were incorrect. The graduation rate listed has been updated. The other fields will be updated when the state publishes corrected data.

Since 2007, the state’s graduation rate has risen about 10 percentage points from 78.4 percent, according to a statement from the Indiana Department of Education. The rate for students graduating without a graduation waiver, a process that can allow students to earn diplomas even if they haven’t passed required high school state tests, is lower that the overall rate—82.8 percent in 2015 and 83.4 percent in 2014.

Waivers have been controversial in Indiana. Supporters say they give students who might face specific challenges that keep them from passing state tests the opportunity to earn a diploma and go to college or pursue a career. Critics believe the waivers give students a free pass and don’t ensure they leave high school with adequate skills.

Across the state, Asian and white students and students who do not come from families that are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch have the highest graduation rates, mostly at or above 90 percent. Black students, students learning English as a new language, and kids with special needs had the lowest graduation rates. All those groups are below 80 percent graduating.

For all graduation rate data in 2014 and 2015, visit the Indiana Department of Education’s website.

Originally posted on Chalkbeat by Shaina Cavazos on January 15, 2016 Chalkbeat Indiana is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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