South Florida school districts continue to make gains in graduation rates, according to state data released Friday. Gains in 2015-2016 represent an all time high for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, even as South Florida graduation rates remain slightly below the state average of 80.7 percent, with the exception of Palm Beach County.
Broward (78.7 percent) , Miami-Dade (80.4 percent), Monroe (77.9 percent) and Palm Beach County (82.3 percent) schools have graduation rates up at least five percentage points over the last five years, with more than three out of four students graduating high school in all four districts.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho singled out some schools that have made even more dramatic gains, like Miami Northwestern High School and Carol City Senior High. “Both of these schools, back in 2007 were rated F or D. Both of these schools had graduation rates, some as low as 40 percent. Today, they have graduation rates twice that.”
— Miami Dade Schools (@MDCPS) December 16, 2016
Northwestern Principal Wallace Aristide says reaching an 85 percent graduation rate has changed the culture of the school. “Students expect now to graduate from Miami Northwestern. They expect to be given a high school diploma. I can graduate; I can go to a college or university of my choice, and I can go ahead and choose a career pathway that works best for me and my family,” he said.
State graduation rates refer to the share of students who graduate within four years of starting ninth grade. Most students who don’t figure into that number haven’t actually dropped out: They may still be in school, they may have failed a required state assessment and pursued an alternative diploma or they may have received a special diploma given to students with disabilities.
Florida school districts have placed increasing emphasis on graduation rates since the state began considering them in its annual A-F school grades. State graduation requirements have also changed significantly in recent years, allowing schools to replace some math and science requirements with career training programs in related fields.