Today, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced that 68.5 percent of students graduated in four years throughout Washington, DC’s public high schools for the 2017-18 school year.
“These results reinforce what we know—even though we’ve come a long way, we have more work to do,” said Mayor Bowser. “Going forward, we will continue working with our students, families, educators, and the community to ensure every student has access to the resources and programming that will set them up for success. By creating solutions that work for our students and our communities, together, we will overcome longstanding challenges and make continuous improvement.”
The graduation rate for DC Public Schools (DCPS) was 68.6 percent, down 4.6 percentage points from the previous year, and the graduation rate for public charter schools was 72.4 percent, down one percentage point from the previous year. The adjusted cohort consisted of 4,863 students who entered ninth grade in the 2014-15 school year. Of those students, 3,330 graduated high school in spring 2018. Since OSSE began using the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate in the 2010-11 school year, the graduation rate for the District of Columbia has increased 10 percentage points.
District of Columbia Statewide Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate
Last year, OSSE analyzed and reported on attendance and graduation practices at public high schools in the District of Columbia, including both public charter schools and an in-depth review of DC Public Schools led by an independent group. In part, the report found that DCPS was not following its own policies and local regulations in regards to the attendance and graduation of some students. As part of ongoing monitoring of DCPS, OSSE’s graduation calculation for the Class of 2018 included additional levels of verification for DCPS graduation results, focusing on files from campuses where last year’s report found significant issues.
Overall, OSSE’s audit found that DCPS is complying with their own policies and local regulation, and that they have made improvements to ensure sound internal practice. Additionally, DCPS provided an action plan for the 2018-19 school year focused on strengthening supports for students and staff, while ensuring full compliance with policies and regulations. OSSE also provided recommendations to DCPS to further improve their policy and practice, including continuing to monitor the correct use of credit recovery options for students, developing an attendance policy for students using competency-based pathways to reach graduation, and ensuring that the process of granting individual graduation appeals follows a rigorous policy.
Graduation rates among student groups show similar trends in comparison to the state rate last year, with a few notable exceptions. With a graduation rate of 75.8 percent, English learners (ELs) at public charter schools outpaced the state rate for ELs (55.8 percent) as well as the rate for ELs at DC Public Schools (51.8 percent).
Six public and public charter high schools had graduation rate increases in the 2017-18 school year: KIPP DC College Preparatory Academy (85.1 percent); Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts (83.0 percent); Paul Public Charter School International High School (87.7 percent); Dunbar High School (85.7 percent); Eastern High School (82.2 percent); and Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School (98.5 percent).
Three high schools had 100 percent graduation rates for the first time, joining Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, which has had a 100 percent graduation rate since the 2012-13 school year. They are: BASIS DC Public Charter School, The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, DC, and Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
“Our graduation rate this year shows that we continue to have work to do in the District of Columbia to ensure students are reaching high school graduation,” said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. “OSSE will work to support the work of our colleagues at DCPS and charter schools to ensure that every student not only graduates, but leaves ready to take on challenging college-level work and enter career pathways.”
The District uses the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR), a federally-required methodology used by all states to maintain a consistent standard for high school graduation rate reporting. Under the ACGR, a cohort of students who entered school as first-time ninth graders in the 2014-15 school year was tracked for four years to determine the total number of students who graduated from high school in the 2017-18 school year with a regular diploma.
For more information or to view additional data, please visit OSSE's website.