Achievement Gap Persists Despite Progress Reflected in High School Graduation Rates

The academic achievement gap is alive and well and living in Connecticut.

While the high school graduation rate in the state has edged upward for the third consecutive year in 2012, 15.2 percent - 43,883 students – in the cohort of the class of 2012 failed to complete high school in four years.  This is down from 17.2 the previous year, according to the State Department of Education’s newly released data.  The state’s graduation rate is 84.8 percent – the percentage of students who graduate high school within four years.

Of the 15.2 percent of students who failed to graduate in four years, just over one-third - 5.4 percent - was still enrolled when their fellow students received their diplomas.  Overall, the disparity in graduate rates among whites, blacks and Hispanics was pronounced:

  • The graduation rate of Hispanic students (68.6 percent) is 22.7 percent lower than that of White students (91.3 percent); the corresponding gap between Black/African American students (73 percent) and their White counterparts is 18.3 percent.
  • The graduation rate for low-income students (those eligible for free lunch) is 66.6 percent, whch is 26.5 percent lower than that of students not eligible for any lunch subsidies (93.1 percent).
  • The graduation rate for English Language Learners (62.7 percent) is 23.2 percent lower than that of their non-ELL peers (85.9 percent).

The graduation rate for Hispanics increased 4.4 percent last year over 2011, and it increased 1.8 percent for Black students, reflecting the state’s progress in narrowing the longstanding gap.

However, “just 54.2 percent of Hispanic males and only 57.6 percent of Black males who are eligible for free lunch graduated high school within four years,” the department reported, pointing out the demographic with the greatest disparities.

The report also noted that the high school graduation rate remains higher for males than females in Connecticut , 88.3 percent compared with 81.5 percent.  Anclass seatsd the graduation rate improved more for females (2.3 percent) than males (1.9 percent) from 2011 to 2012.

Across the state’s 188 high schools, the graduation rate was above 90 percent in 100 high schools, 40 high schools had a graduation rate of between 80 and 90 percent, and 38 high schools had a graduation rate of less than 80 percent.

Graduation rates are calculated according to the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate method, which was developed by the National Governors Association and is considered to be the most precise method. These rates represent the percentage of students who graduated with a regular high school diploma in four years or less. It is based on individual student level data, excludes 9th grade repeaters, late graduates, and accounts for transfers in and out of the graduating class over the four-year period.

By way of comparison, in North Carolina, 80.4 percent of students graduated high school within four years, somewhat below Connecticut’s overall 84.8 percent.  However, among students of color, North Carolina’s numbers outpace Connecticut.  In North Carolina, 73 percent of Hispanic students now graduate in four years, compared with 68.6 percent in Connecticut.  Among black students, the percentage graduating in four years is 74.7 percent in North Carolina, compared to 73 percent in Connecticut.