Pasco County Schools is making progress toward raising graduation rates in its system, but a new report from the GradNation campaign shows that there is still some ways to go.
Pasco is graduating 77 percent of its high school students while the Hillsborough County School District is graduating 73 percent — both nearly in-line with the state average of 75 percent. Yet, there is some silver lining for Pasco, which has a graduation rate near that of Osceola, Lake, Collier and Sarasota counties, and not too far behind leading counties like Brevard and Seminole among the most populated school districts.
Graduation rates in Florida as a whole have been steadily rising over the past decade, from 57 percent in 2003 to 75 percent in 2012. Yet, those rates are still among the lowest in the nation, beating only Alaska, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon.
GradNation arrived at the numbers using what it called the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, which tracks a group of students who enter high school together and graduate “on-time” with a regular diploma. The rate accounts and adjusts for students who transfer in or out of the school, or who pass away.
Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who serves as founding chair for America’s Promise Alliance — one of the participating groups in the study — said in a letter with wife Alma Powell that nationwide, school graduation rates are climbing. However, to reach the 90 percent level, there is still more work to be done.
“Despite our gains, far too many young people still do not earn a high school diploma, and the number of non-graduates remains alarmingly high among young people of color, and those from low-income communities,” the Powells wrote in the letter. “In other words, a young person’s chances for success still depend too much on his or her ZIP code and skin color, and too little on his or her abilities and effort.”
The report was commissioned by Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, and America’s Promise Alliance for Excellence Education. Efforts were put together after graduation rates had plateaued over a three-decade period. In the last 10 years, however, national graduation rates have climbed more than 10 percent, with a goal to move another 10 percent ahead by the Class of 2020.