Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined BESE members Glenny Lee Buquet and Jim Garvey to announce that Louisiana's high school graduation rate has increased by 3.7 points to 70.9 percent and that the cohort dropout rate has decreased from 17 percent to 14.6 percent between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
The jump in Louisiana's graduation rate triples the cumulative gain for the prior three years combined. The cohort dropout rate also represents a four-point decrease since 2007-08, when it was 18.6 percent.
Governor Jindal said, "These new graduation and dropout rates are no coincidence and show that our reforms are working. By eliminating ineffective programs and investing in programs that get results for students, we are making historic gains and moving in the right direction.
"Our kids only grow up once and the more we improve our education system, the better chance our children and grandchildren will have to succeed in the 21st century workforce and pursue their dreams right here at home. With more Louisiana kids than ever graduating high school, we're continuing to turn our state around, but our work is not done yet -- and we will not rest until Louisiana is the best place in the world to get a great education, start a career and raise a family."
The increase in the graduation rate and the reduction in the state's dropout rate are signs that the state's education policies are working. In fact, analyses for several programs show above-average increases in the graduation rates at participating schools, including:
* High schools participating in the 9th Grade Initiative grant program, or "Freshmen Academies," averaged 4.4 percentage points of growth from 2010 to 2011, compared to an increase of 2.5 points at schools without the 9th Grade Initiative.
* Schools participating in the "Jobs for America's Graduates" (JAG) program saw graduation rates increase by 5.7 points on average between 2010 and 2011, compared to an increase of just 2.4 points at schools not participating in JAG.
* The Louisiana Department of Education's 52 "high priority" high schools averaged a 4.4 point gain in their graduation rates from 2010 to 2011 -- and 10 of these schools logged double-digit growth.
In order to keep moving graduation and dropout rates in the right direction, the state has launched a series of new services over the past year:
* With the elimination of the Pre-GED/Options Program, all schools have now transitioned to the Connections Program, which is a one year process for 8th graders who are two or more years below grade level and at least 15 years old to receive targeted instruction and accelerated remediation. Research shows that students who are "overage" for their grade level are significantly less likely to graduate.
Accelerated Student Achievement Pathways (ASAP) provides overage first time 9th graders, typically 15-16 years old, the opportunity to accelerate credit attainment through the use of innovative scheduling and distance learning so that they can graduate with their peers.
* The Graduation Coach Task Force convened to create a Best Practices Toolkit for graduation coaches. This work builds on the Middle to High School Transitions Task Force, which created a Best Practices Toolkit to assist eighth and ninth graders in the transition to high school.
* Select middle schools in East Baton Rouge and Jefferson parishes will pilot "My Graduation Plan," a web-based transition planning program that engages students and parents in the transition and graduation planning process and increases self-advocacy for post-secondary achievement, and receive technical assistance for their teachers who serve overage special education students through the Higher Education Access Project.