OLYMPIA—More high school students are graduating and fewer are dropping out, according to a new report released by state education officials.
About 74 percent of students in the Washington class of 2005 graduated within four years, an improvement of about 4 percent over the previous year. Officials said the numbers reflect both an improvement in student retention and a change in the way the state keeps track of dropout rates.
"It's better school systems, better educational opportunities for students and better information systems," said Lisa Ireland, data and research analyst for the state school superintendent's office.
The state also lists "extended graduation rates" on its school district statistics site. Those rates include students who graduate in more than four years and are typically about 4 percent higher than the on-time graduation rate. Washington state's extended rate for 2004-2005 was 79 percent.
Of the 314,331 students in Washington high schools in 2004-2005, 5.1 percent dropped out of all grades, compared to 5.8 percent the year before. The dropout rate was highest among American Indian (10.2 percent), Hispanic (8.3 percent), and Black students (7 percent) and lowest among Asian/Pacific Islander (3.3 percent) and White students (4.4 percent).
The dropout numbers for all racial groups improved from the previous year. And the number of dropouts also decreased among low-income students, defined as those receiving free or reduced-price lunches. About 6.7 percent of low-income students dropped out during the 2004-2005 year, slightly better than the 6.8 percent the year before.
Kim Schmanke, spokeswoman for the state school superintendent's office, said the report will be used to find out which schools are doing well, what they're doing and how to use their example at other schools.
"You're not going to feel like you can rest until you see 100 percent of kids earning their diploma," she said.
— The Associated Press