The four-year cohort graduation rate for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools rose more than four percentage points for 2012-2013 to reach 81 percent, up from 76.4 a year earlier. It was the fourth consecutive year of increase for the district and the largest single-year increase since the 2008-2009 school year.
The four-year cohort graduation rate is widely considered to be the most accurate measurement of graduation progress. It tracks the percentage of ninth-graders who graduate in four years. The state of North Carolina began reporting the four-year cohort graduation rate statewide and for individual districts in 2006.
“Preparing our students with a high school degree and a strong post-secondary plan is the overarching goal for every employee in CMS – the process begins in kindergarten and continues through the next 12 years of education,” said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. “We are very pleased to see this increase in our cohort graduation rate; it’s good news for our schools, our students and their families.”
The CMS four-year cohort graduation rate has risen by almost 15 percentage points since 2008-2009, when it was 66.1 percent. Increases have been between three and four percentage points each year until this year, when the increase was 4.6 percentage points.
The state also reports the four-year cohort graduation rate for 11 student subgroups. In CMS, all but one of the subgroups showed increases this year.
The largest increase was reported for the Exceptional Children subgroup, which showed an increase of 8.7 percentage points, rising from 44.8 percent to a 53.5 percent graduation rate. Three subgroups had increases of more than five percentage points: Male students had a 5.1 percentage-point increase (to 75.9 percent); Hispanic students had a 5.6 percentage-point increase (to 71.1 percent), and black students had a 5.3 percentage-point increase (to 76.6 percent).
Four subgroups had increases ranging from 4 to 4.8 percentage points. Female students’ four-year cohort graduation rate increased by 4.0 percentage points, to 86.2 percent. Multi-racial students’ cohort graduation rate increased by 4.0 percentage points to 80 percent. White students’ rate increased by 4.5 percentage points to 91 percent. Economically disadvantaged students’ rate increased by 4.8 percentage points to 74.5 percent.
Asian students’ cohort graduation rate increased by 3.5 percentage points to 86.7 percent. The cohort graduation rate for Limited English Proficient students remained flat at 46.1 percent.
“It is encouraging to see these increases spread across nearly all of the subgroups,” said Dr. Morrison. “We will be looking at what we can do to improve the four-year cohort graduation rate for our students with limited English proficiency – we have a starting point with the recommendations of the task force which looked at how best to serve these students. We want to see graduation rates for every subgroup continue to rise, so that our students leave us prepared for the next step in college or career.”
CMS has made increasing the graduation rate a focus of its strategic planning for several years. The district has also focused on strengthening its guidance and academic counseling, targeted academic supports to struggling students and provided additional time to students who need it through credit recovery and extended-day programs. CMS has also worked with teachers to develop their capacity to analyze student data and provide instruction that meets each student’s needs.
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