State graduation rate up overall and among African Americans
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s four-year high school graduation rate has surpassed 80% for the first time, and the graduation rate for African American students in the state has — for the first time — surpassed the national average, state education officials said Wednesday.
Louisiana Education Department figures show an overall graduation rate for 2018 of 81.4%. That’s up from 78.2% in 2017.
State Education Superintendent John White said reaching the 80% threshold meant “the state has finally hit a long-held goal” established by lawmakers and the state education board in 2012.
White discussed the graduation data during a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol.
The figures show black students’ graduation rate jumped from just under 73% in 2017 to more than 78% last year. The most recent national average is 77.8%.
Gaps between the overall rate and the rate for student groups classified as historically disadvantaged are narrowing in Louisiana. Nearly 76% of economically disadvantaged students graduated in the class of 2018, up from about 73% in 2017 and nearly 68% in 2013; nearly 60% of students with disabilities graduated in the class of 2018, up from 52.6% in 2017 and less than 37% in 2013, according to a department news release.
The department outlined plans to further close the lingering gaps, including identifying and providing struggling schools with money for improvement.
Louisiana’s overall graduation rate still lags the most recently available national average — 84.6% — the state’s figures showed. But the rate of improvement since 2012 was 9.1%, outpacing national growth of 4.6%
The figures also show that more Louisiana graduates earned early college credit or industry career credentials and qualified for higher education aid.
The number of high school graduates earning early college credit and industry career credentials for high-wage industries climbed from 23,932 to 24,835. The number of students qualifying for some form of college or technical school aid under the state’s TOPS scholarship program has grown from 16,289 in 2012 to 21,280 last year.