Graduation rate gains for African American and Hispanic students in Montgomery


Montgomery County Superindendent Joshua Starr in 2011. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Four-year graduation rates in Montgomery County show a slight narrowing of the achievement gap that separates white and Asian students from their African American and Hispanic peers, according to the latest state figures.

Overall, the graduation rate in Montgomery rose to 88.3 percent, reflecting an increase of nearly a percentage point compared with 2012 and an uptick of 1.5 points over the past two years, according to data for the class of 2013 released last week.

A two-year look at state data shows the gap in graduation rates between African American students and their white classmates narrowed by 1.8 percentage points. It also decreased by 1.4 points between Hispanic students and their white peers.

The achievement gap has been a continuing concern in Montgomery, where county officials have pressed for more action. Superintendent Joshua P. Starr has said his budget proposal for next fiscal year is intended to help narrow the gap, as well as address an enrollment surge and prepare students for “the new” in curriculum and career.

Asian students have the top graduation rates in Montgomery, higher than 95 percent for the class of 2013. Four-year graduation rates were 94.7 percent for white students; 83.9 percent for African American students; and 77.5 percent for Hispanic students.

Starr has lauded the progress being made in the county’s 25 high schools, but added that “there is still much work to be done.”

For African American students in the class of 2013, graduation rates improved 1.6 percentage points compared with 2012. At the same time, white students inched up by 0.7 points and Hispanic students by 0.8 points.

The latest figures show strong one-year gains for special education students, with graduation rates climbing 4.7 points from 2012, to 67.5 percent.

Students who receive free and reduced-price meals at school — an indicator of poverty — saw rates up 1.5 points compared with 2012, to 78.1 percent.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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