Washington State Graduation Rate Breaks Record; New School Report Card Released
Yesterday, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction released the newly redesigned state Report Card, which provides data and information about the state’s public schools. This included the release of 2018 graduation rates, which hit an all-time high.
OLYMPIA — December 18, 2018 — Although it is not the only indicator to show whether a student is prepared for life beyond high school, the graduation rate is a powerful tool to measure how well the K–12 system is meeting the needs of students.
For the fifth year in a row, the 4-year statewide graduation rate has grown, breaking another record, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced today. The 4-year graduation rate in the 2017–18 school year was 80.9 percent, an increase of 1.6 percentage points from the previous year.
The 4-year graduation rate reflects the percentage of students who started the ninth grade at the same time and graduated four years later.
The graduation rate for students who graduated within five years also hit an all-time high at 82.7 percent in 2018.
“We are excited to see graduation rates rise again, even as the rigor of the diploma has increased,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “For years, our educators and school districts have worked hard to create systems to ensure more of our most vulnerable learners are getting the supports they need. Rising graduation rates are a reflection of those efforts.”
Several groups of students in the Class of 2018 increased their graduation rate by more than the statewide average. The highest were English learners and Pacific Islander students, who increased their graduation rates by 6.4 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.
Other student groups whose graduation rate increased by more than the statewide average between the classes of 2017 and 2018 include black students (2.9 percent increase), Hispanic students (2.5 percent), Asian students (2.5 percent), students with disabilities (2.3 percent), and students experiencing poverty (2.1 percent).
“Although there are still gaps between the graduation rates of different groups of students, those gaps are closing,” Reykdal continued. “Each group whose graduation rate increased by more than the statewide average is effectively closing the gap. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are making progress.”
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction released the 2018 graduation rates yesterday in the unveiling of the new state Report Card.
Redesigned Report Card
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) required OSPI to add several additional measures to the state Report Card, including measures about student success, educators, and school expenditures.
“ESSA required us to add some measures to our Report Card, and we took the opportunity to put the tool through a full redesign with parents and families in mind,” Reykdal said. “Our primary goal is to make educational data available and understandable, and we will continue to refine the site based on further feedback from parents, families, students, educators, and community members.”
Over the past two years, OSPI initiated feedback from various groups that include parents and families, educators, legislators, education associations, and other stakeholders. The participants of these groups prioritized the measures and helped design the site’s navigation.
Report Card now displays information using a consistent format across all measures. In addition, all measures are introduced by guiding questions and contextual information — allowing members of the public to understand each one individually. In January, the site will have the capability to be translated to all languages supported by Google Translate.
Two of the changes required by ESSA are the additions of financial and educator data.
The financial data in the redesigned Report Card include dollars spent per student for each school district and each individual school building. This data will separate the funding spent on salary and benefits, and non-staff related costs.
For the next two years, OSPI will display expenditure data at the school level using a statewide allocation approach. Beginning in the 2019–20 school year, OSPI will collect this data in a different way so the Report Card published in the 2020–21 school year will more closely reflect actual school-level expenditures.
“By asking school districts to report their expenditures to us at the school level, we give them the opportunity to tell their own story,” Reykdal said. “When we use a flat approach at the state level, we miss the small details. The story will be more accurate when districts have the chance to tell it themselves.”
The educator measures included in the redesigned Report Card are:
· percentage of teachers by race and ethnicity,
· number and percentage of teachers per student,
· number of students per teacher,
· average number of students in a classroom,
· percentage of teachers who have a full certification or limited certification,
· percentage of teachers with an advanced degree,
· percentage of teachers who are National Board Certified,
· distribution of years of teaching experience,
· percentage of teachers who have five or fewer years of teaching experience,
· percentage of teachers who are teaching outside of their endorsed area (out-of-field), and
· percentage of students who are being taught by inexperienced, out-of-field, or limited certificated teachers.
“Report Card data can be used to tell powerful stories about how schools and school districts operate,” Reykdal said. “However, when interpreting the data, we urge users to be cautious about drawing conclusions. There are several reasons that schools with similar traits — even schools within the same district — may show differences in data. I hope the data on the redesigned Report Card will create an opportunity for parents, families, students, and community members to have conversations about their schools in a way they never have before.”
Based on ongoing feedback by parents, families, students, educators, community groups, and other stakeholders, OSPI will continue to improve the new Report Card site over time.