Providing tools to assess the needs of Florida's children and their families.

Providing tools to assess the needs of Florida's children and their families.

Counting For Kids Blog

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Florida's High School Graduation Rates

By Norín Dollard, Florida KIDS COUNT Director

Source: Florida Department of Education Florida’s High School Cohort Graduation Rate December 2014

It’s that exciting time of the year, graduation season! This year I have a bumper crop of four in my circle of family and friends. My friend’s son graduated from kindergarten. One of my elementary school principal friends describes the happy bedlam and quips, "don’t you just wish you could bottle their joy at being in school, so when you are feeling a little down, you could just sip it and you would be refreshed?" It’s just that much fun. Two of my nieces are graduating from high school and again you feel their excitement for what’s to come as they enter adulthood in their sober black gowns, perfectly coiffed, made up and carefully poised atop those high heels! Finally, a young friend of mine just graduated from college and is headed to medical school. She is a little more subdued about her accomplishment but still full of anticipation as well as pride that all of her hard work has paid off.

All around Florida, proud parents, family members and friends gather to celebrate graduations. The Florida Department of Education reports that graduation rates have risen 18% since 2003 (see the below infographic) which is great news for Florida. We shouldn’t rest on our laurels just yet though, as 25% of our students don’t graduate on time, although we are improving. These next few months we at Florida KIDS COUNT will be focusing on the needs of children of color and issues of gender. So starting with this blog, let’s look at how children of color are doing in the Sunshine State.

Graduating from high school is incredibly important as it increases lifetime income potential and the student’s ability to succeed. In Florida, the largest gap in the graduation rates is between Black/African-Americans and Whites with a 14.8 % lower graduation rate for Black/African-Americans students. Hispanics and Whites differ with a 6% lower graduation rate for Hispanics as compared to their White counterparts. This trend, sadly, is not just occurring in Florida. The good news is that there are things we can do. Child Trends reports that involving teachers in programs to increase educational achievement and adjustment, providing academic support outside of school hours and providing intensive support all contribute to positive academic outcomes. Others describe a "both and" approach in which comprehensive school programs focus on dropout prevention for all students as well as targeting the early warning behaviors of individual students (MacIver & MacIver, 2009).

While I will be celebrating graduations in my circle of friends and family during the month of June, Florida KIDS COUNT will be sharing resources on how to improve graduation rates so that all students, regardless of race, income, and gender, have the same opportunities to succeed in school and beyond. Stay tuned by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

MacIver, M.A., & MacIver, D.J. (2009). Beyond the indicators:  Dropout prevention: An integrated school level approach to dropout prevention.  Arlington, VA: George Washington University, Center for Equity and Excellence in Education.

Image Source: Florida Department of Education Florida’s High School Cohort Graduation Rate December 2014


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