Mississippi graduation rates reach all time high



India Yarborough



According to the Mississippi Department of Education, high school graduation rates for the state reached an all time high during the 2015-2016 school year with 80.8 percent of all students graduating within four years.


MDE released graduation rates for all Mississippi school districts June 16, and the data indicated more state students are earning a standard diploma than ever before. The 2015-2016 Mississippi graduation rate for all students increased 2.4 percent from its 2014-2015 rate of 78.4 percent.


"The credit is due to the hard work of our teachers and principals who continue to set high expectations for children, and our children continue to meet and exceed those expectations," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright in a press release.




Local numbers


Despite increases in the state graduation rate, some local school districts have not experienced the same growth.


From the Columbus, Lowndes County, Noxubee County, Starkville and West Point school districts, only the Columbus Municipal and Starkville Oktibbeha school districts witnessed increased graduation rates for the 2015-2016 school year.


Columbus's four-year graduation rate rose from 70.3 percent in 2014-2015 to 79.8 percent in 2015-2016, and Starkville's rate rose from 77.1 percent in 2014-15 to 81.3 percent in 2015-16.


While Starkville Superintendent Lewis Holloway says configuring graduation data can be complicated because of shifts in data collection methods, he does attribute the rising graduation rate of SOCSD to district administration.


"I think it's the work of our administration and paying attention to attendance and trying to make a quality school district," Holloway said Wednesday.


The other three school districts saw decreases in graduation rates between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, and all five districts had decreased graduation rates between those years for students with disabilities.


According to a 2013-2014 report by the National Center for Education Statistics, Mississippi's state graduation rate fell just behind New York's and ranked in the bottom quarter of all states.


More recent national averages have not been released.



Students with disabilities


Mississippi's graduation rate for students with disabilities also increased from 27.5 percent in 2014-2015 to 33.6 percent in 2015-2016.


The recent statistics follow a new accountability model for calculating graduation rate, implemented by MDE during the 2013-2014 school year. According to the MDE's website, the newer model meets federal reporting requirements and does not include GED earners and other non-traditional diplomas.


The United States' high school graduation rate crawled to 82.3 percent in 2013-2014.


According to a June 16 press release, MDE Director of Research and Development Dr. J.P. Beaudoin indicated Mississippi could surpass the national average by next year if current trends continue.





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