More than 86 percent of students in Maryland are earning diplomas within four years, a record-high graduation rate for the state, according to data released Tuesday.
Maryland state officials celebrated the achievement, noting that the rate has risen more than four percentage points since 2010. At that time, fewer than 82 percent of high-school students graduated in four years.
"We are so excited," said Maryland's state superintendent of schools, Lillian M. Lowery, sharing that as graduation rates have improved, dropout rates have fallen. "We have to give all of the credit to the creative work that's going on in our districts and our schools."
Lowery shared that Maryland's 24 school districts now target students at risk and build individualized learning plans to meet each student's needs.
State data tells us that the dropout rate in Maryland declined from 11.9 percent in 2010 to 8.4 percent in 2014.
Despite the gains, statewide numbers show that an achievement gap still exists, with lower graduation rates for Hispanic and African-American students. However, the gaps did narrow between 2011 and 2014.
Maryland's graduation rate for African-American students is up more than four percentage points since 2010, to nearly 80.5 percent statewide. The rate for Hispanic students also rose nearly six percentage points during the same period, to 77.5 percent.
There is a lot to celebrate in the state of Maryland. The numbers show change is happening in the state, and for the better. I believe a big reason we are seeing these changes is because of the individualized plans that Maryland now builds for at-risk students. I hope we continue to see higher education rates, lower dropout rates and a narrowing education gap.