Wisconsin high school graduation rates on the rise

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Frank Schultz
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wisconsin is doing a better job of getting students to graduate from high school in four years.

The state Department of Public Instruction on Tuesday released the latest graduation data for 2012. It showed that 87.5 percent of students graduated in four years. That is up from 87 percent in 2011 and 85.7 percent in the 2010.

Janesville, meanwhile, lagged behind the state rate but improved from the previous two years, with a 2012 graduation rate of 86.2 percent.

Janesville Craig and Parker high schools did even better than the district, with rates of 90.3 percent and 93.8 percent, respectively.

Lower graduation rates at two charter schools—the Janesville Virtual Academy and TAGOS Leadership Academy—impacted the district’s overall rate, said Yolanda Cargile, the district’s director of student services.

Janesville Virtual Academy sends many students back to Craig and Parker to graduate on time, said teacher Dave Parr, while other students often take more than four years to graduate because they come to the school behind on credits for various reasons.

“The good thing is that they are graduating,” Cargile said.

TAGOS also serves at-risk students, Yolanda noted, and if the schools were not available, those student might not graduate at all.

Cargile noted that few students are eligible to graduate at the charter schools each year, so when a handful do not graduate, the impact on the percentage is great.

Students at Janesville’s Rock River Charter School receive diplomas from Craig or Parker.

Students who are members of minorities did not perform as well as white counterparts, both statewide and locally.

White students had a graduation rate of 92.2 percent statewide in 2012. Janesville’s rate was 89.4 percent.

The state graduation rate for African-American students was 62.7 percent, compared with Janesville’s 61.3 percent.

The state rate for Hispanic students was 74.3 percent, compared with 71.9 for Janesville.

The state rate for Asians was 88.4 percent, compared with 70 percent in Janesville.

The state rate for two or more races, a category that was added two years ago, was 83.9 percent in 2012, compared with 80.5 percent in Janesville.

Students who are “economically disadvantaged” also do more poorly than average. Statewide, 71.7 percent of those students graduated on time, compared with 76.5 percent in Janesville.

The state ’s graduation rate is among the best in the nation. It was tied for second in the most recent (2010-11) school year data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Vermont and Wisconsin had 87 percent rates that year, while Iowa had 88 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Last updated: 10:27 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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