Graduation Rates Rise in Montgomery County

Wheaton High School Photo | Montgomery County Public Schools

Wheaton High School
Photo | Montgomery County Public Schools

The graduation rate for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) rose for a third consecutive year and the achievement gap narrowed in all areas, according to an MCPS news release out today.

According to MCPS, the largest improvement was at Wheaton High School.

The four-year graduation rate for the MCPS Class of 2014 was 89.7 percent, according to data released by the Maryland State Department of Education on Tuesday (January 27, 2015). That is a 1.4 percentage point increase over 2013 and a 2.9 percentage point increase since 2011.

“Over the past three years, our graduation rate has risen steadily and significantly thanks to the hard work of our students, the commitment of our staff, and strong support from the community,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua Starr. “I am extremely pleased that we are seeing results in our efforts to narrow achievement gaps and prepare all students for their future.”

The graduation rate for all subgroups of students rose in 2014. For African American MCPS students, the graduation rate rose to 86.4 percent in 2014, a one-year increase of 2.5 percentage points. Over the past three years, the graduation rate for African American students has risen 5.1 percentage points, and the gap between African American and White students has narrowed by 3.8 points.

The graduation rate for Hispanic MCPS students jumped to 80 percent in 2014, also a one-year increase of 2.5 percentage points. Over the past three years, the graduation rate for Hispanic students has risen 4.7 percentage points, and the gap between Hispanic and White students has narrowed by 3.4 points.

“Over the past three years, we have been helping our schools focus on areas for improvement and how they can best foster the development of academic and creative problem solving skills in students, while also addressing their social emotional needs,” Dr. Starr said. “That work may not be the same in every school, but it is getting strong results across the district.”
For instance, Wheaton High School—where a schoolwide focus on project-based learning has been implemented—saw its graduation rate jump to 78.2 percent, a one-year increase of 9.6 percentage points. And at Watkins Mill High School, one of the schools where the district has been offering additional support and services, the graduation rate rose to 90.7 percent in 2014, a one-year increase of 5.6 percentage points.

The MCPS graduation rate (89.7 percent) is 3.3 percentage points higher than the graduation rate for the state of Maryland (86.4 percent). MCPS students who are African American (86.4 percent) and Hispanic (80.0 percent) are graduating at a much higher percentage than the state’s students who are African American (80.5 percent) and Hispanic (77.5 percent).
Districtwide, the 2014 four-year graduation rate for MCPS students who receive special education services rose to 70.4 percent, a one-year increase of 2.9 percentage points and an increase of 7.8 points over the past three years. Statewide, the graduation rate for special education students was 63.5 percent.

For MCPS students who receive free and reduced-price meals services (FARMS), the 2014 graduation rate was 81 percent, a one-year increase of 2.9 percentage points and an increase of 5.8 percentage points over the past three years. Statewide, the graduation rate for FARMS students was 77.8 percent.

The graduation rate for MCPS students who are English language learners rose nearly 2 percentage points to 54 percent in 2014. That is essentially the same as the state of Maryland (54.1 percent).

“We should be very proud of the progress all of our students are making, but there is still a lot of work left to be done,” Dr. Starr said. “If we continue to focus on meeting the individual needs of our students, I know we will continue to make progress in the years to come.”

School Results
Among the 2014 graduation rate results for the 25 MCPS high schools:
– Fifteen high schools saw a one-year increase in the graduation rate, with the largest increases at Wheaton (+9.6 percentage points), Albert Einstein (+5.8), Watkins Mill (+5.6), Walt Whitman (+3.7), and Quince Orchard (+3.1).
– Twenty have seen their graduation rate increase over the past three years, with the largest increases at Watkins Mill (+7.1 percentage points), Rockville (+7.0), Quince Orchard (+6.3), Wheaton (+4.1), and Albert Einstein (+4.1).
– The highest graduation rates are at Poolesville and Winston Churchill (both at 98.4%); Thomas S. Wootton (97.5%); Walt Whitman (97.3%); and Sherwood (95.1%).

You can read Starr’s memo to the Board of Education here.

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Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.

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