The Washington Post

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)

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.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.


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