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State Ranks 7th Nationally

Grace E Merritt

June 11, 2010

A new report shows that Connecticut ranked seventh in the nation for high school graduation rates, with 77.7 percent of the state's students earning diplomas.

The report by Education Week magazine showed that Connecticut's graduation rate, based on 2007 figures, was well above the national average of 68.8 percent.

The news was bittersweet.

"The fact that Connecticut ranks high even though it's 77.7 percent shows that, nationally, we have a significant crisis," said Sterling Lloyd, a senior research associate for the Research Center at the Editorial Projects in Education.

The report also found that the national graduation rate dropped slightly for the second year in a row in 2007 and predicted that 56 students a day would drop out of Connecticut schools this school year.

"The declining graduation rate is a significant cause for concern," Lloyd said. "The increasing importance of education in a competitive, global economy is a strong reason to boost efforts to keep kids in high school."

The study also found a large racial disparity in Connecticut's graduation rates.

Lloyd said the percentages suggest that the state needs to consider options to address the gap in graduation rates among Hispanics, African Americans, Caucasians and Asian Americans.

The study's findings were similar to the 2009 results released earlier this year by the Connecticut Department of Education using a new tracking system that more accurately gauges rates. The system found that 79.3 percent of students received diplomas in 2009, significantly lower than the 92 percent estimate the state reported in 2008, 2007 and 2006.

ConnCAN, a school reform advocacy group, said it was pleased with the switch to the new data system from the old methodology, a paper-based system that depended on students to declare that they were dropping out and required districts to fully report dropout rates.

ConnCAN released a report Thursday comparing the state's results achieved by the old method with Education Week's findings and discovered wide discrepancies. For example, the state put Hartford's graduation rate at 77 percent in 2007, compared to a rate of 39.8 percent reported by Education Week.

Education Week's report will be presented to the National Governors' Association and to the Council of Chief State School Officers, Lloyd said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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