The four-year graduation rate for Montgomery County Public Schools dipped ever so slightly to 89.5 percent, according to data released by the Maryland State Department of Education on this month. The MCPS graduation dropped by 0.3 percentage points, from the previous year and has fallen 0.2 percentage points over the past three years. MCPS points out that the district’s four-year cohort graduation rate has remained steady at nearly 90 percent over the past three years.
Two Germantown schools have seen their four-year graduation rates increase over the past three years. The graduation rate at Seneca Valley increased 4.0 percentage points from 2015-2016 to the 2016-2017 school year. The graduation rate at Seneca Valley was 86.2 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. Seneca Valley has also shown the largest improvements to graduation rate in the County over a three-year period with a 3.0 percentage point gain, also the largest gain of any MCPS high school.
The graduation rate at Northwest was 95.0 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. Northwest’s graduation rate remained high, but dipped a smidge, 0.1 percent from the previous school year. However, Northwest has also seen its graduation rate gain 2.2 points over the three year period.
The graduation rate at Clarksburg High School was 91.5 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. Clarksburg High School saw its graduation rate increase by 1.4 percentage-points year-over-year and has seen a 1.3 increase over the last three years.
The four-year graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students who graduate within four years, including the summer following their fourth year of high school, with a regular high school diploma by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class. Students who drop out of high school remain in the adjusted cohort—that is, the denominator of the cohort graduation rate calculation.
“Montgomery County Public Schools continues to outperform public schools across the state and our high graduation rate is a testament to the hard work of our students, the commitment of our staff, and strong support from the community,” said Michael Durso, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “We remain committed to our efforts to ensure that 100 percent of our students graduate with the skills and knowledge they will need to excel in college or careers.”
The four-year graduation rate has improved for several student subgroups in MCPS. For instance, the MCPS graduation rate for African American students rose to 88.2 percent, a one-year increase of 0.5 percentage points and a three-year increase of 1.8 percentage points. The graduation rate for students receiving Free and Reduced-price Meals (FARMS) has increased by 0.9 percentage points over the past three years.
“We are proud of the progress we’ve made in closing gaps and maintaining one of the highest graduation rate in the state,” said Superintendent Jack R. Smith. “We will continue to equip our school leaders with the resources and tools they need to identify areas for improvement and truly meet the individual needs of every student.”
One of the challenges MCPS faces is a significant increase in the number of students with limited English proficiency (LEP) enrolling in the system during high school. The 300% increase between 2014 and 2017 has affected graduation outcomes for this subgroup.
“We are concerned about the decline in graduation rates for LEP students,” stated Smith. We are committed to making investments in the resources an opportunities theses students need to meet their full potential.” Some of the factors the district is evaluating include the length of time the students have been enrolled in MCPS, students’ ages, and the level of English for Speakers of Other Languages services they are receiving at the time they drop out.
“There is still much work to be done to ensure all of our students graduate on time ready for college and the workforce,” stated Dr. Smith.
Other schools which were among the fourteen high schools which have seen graduation rates increase over the past three years, are Springbrook (2.7 points), Richard Montgomery (2.4 points), and Northwest (2.2 points).
Schools experiencing the greatest decrease in graduation rates over the three-year period are Watkins Mill (-6.2 percent), Northwood (-5.0 percent), Rockville (-4.1 percent), Gaithersburg (-2.4 percent) and Poolesville (-2.2 percent).
MCPS high schools with the highest graduation rates are Walt Whitman (97.9 percent), Thomas S. Wootton (97.8 percent), Winston Churchill (97.4 percent), Poolesville (96.2 percent), Walter Johnson (95.8 percent), and Quince Orchard (95.6 percent). The schools with the lowest graduation rates were Northwood at 79.4 percent, and Gaithersburg and Wheaton both at 77.4 percent.
Graphics and photos by Germantown Pulse.