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Posted at 03:50 PM ET, 04/05/2012

D.C. graduation rate declines to less than 60% under new formula

Fewer than 60 percent of D.C. high school students graduated on time in 2011, according to a new and more rigorous calculation of completion rates announced Thursday.

Figures released by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) show that 58.6 percent of the 5,058 students in the class of 2011 obtained high school diplomas within four years. That’s a nearly 20 percent decline over the 73 percent rate reported for 2010. The national rate is about 75 percent.

Students applaud following first lady Michelle Obama’s commencement speech at Anacostia High School’s graduation last year. (Jahi Chikwendiu - WASHINGTON POST)
Before this year, the District calculated its rate by dividing the number of graduating seniors by that sum plus those who left in eachof the preceding four years. The federal government now requires D.C. and states to use the “adjusted cohort method,” factoring in not only the students who leave but those who transfer into a school during the four-year period.

The formula gives District officials a more realistic view of high school completion. The city’s four application-only high schools, Banneker, McKinley, School Without Walls and Duke Ellington, are at the top of the revised list. At Banneker, 100 percent of students graduated one time in 2011. The other three had rates between 91 and 93 percent.

Of the city’s open enrollment schools that serve high school students, the top seven were public charter schools: Washington Math, Science & Tech; SEED; Booker T. Washington; Friendship (Woodson campus) Cesar Chavez (Capitol Hill and Parkside campuses) Perry Street and Thurgood Marshall. The rates range from 91.3 percent ( Washington MST) to 75.4 percent Thurgood Marshall.

Seven of the bottom 10 high schools are run by DCPS: Dunbar (60.25) Coolidge (59.8) Woodson (57.1) Ballou (48.1) Spingarn (47.7) Roosevelt (46) and Cardozo (39.9) An eighth DCPS high school, Anacostia (42) is operated by Friendship under a contract with the city.

By  |  03:50 PM ET, 04/05/2012

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