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Mass. Outside Top 10 for Graduation Rate, Peabody Just Below State Average

Massachusetts had an adjusted graduation rate of 83 percent for the 2010-2011 school year, while Peabody Veterans Memorial High School's adjusted graduation rate that year was 82.2 percent, which is still an improvement over recent years.

Massachusetts didn't make the top 10 high school graduation rates in the nation, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, and Peabody High is just below the state average.

The graduation rates released Monday are for the 2010-2011 school year—the first year for which all states used a common, adjusted four-year cohort graduation rate, according to a U.S. Department of Education press release.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) spokesman JC Considine told Patch in an e-mail that Massachusetts has been computing cohort graduation rates since 2006, which are available on the DESE website.

According to the preliminary state-reported data, for the 2010-2011 school year Massachusetts had a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of 83 percent, which ties for 11th highest in the nation with six other states. Iowa had the highest rate at 88 percent. (See the PDF attached to this article for full results.)

Meanwhile, according to the DESE website, for the 2010-2011 school year Peabody Veterans Memorial High School had a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of 82.2 percent. While that number is lower than the state average, it does represent an improvement for PVMHS, which hovered around 79 percent in 2006, 2009 and 2010 and was about 81 percent in 2007 and 2008.

The latest cohort size was 490, which has fluctuated by about 30 students plus or minus over those six years.

The new common methodology eliminates the problem of comparing graduation rates between states that use varying calculation methods, according to the U.S. Department of Education press release, and meets the requirements of federal regulations instituted in October 2008.

The new graduation rate measurement also accurately accounts for students who drop out or who do not earn a regular high school diploma, the press release said.

The latest figures also show that PVMHS has markedly improved its dropout rate, now at 7.1 percent, but which had been as high as 12 percent and generally ranged 9-11 percent over those six years. Additionally, 7.8 percent of the cohort was still in school, according to the 2011 figures.

Locally, school officials have attributed some of that success to opening an alternative high school program at the Northshore Mall -- the Peabody Learning Academy -- as well as a night school alternative program at PVMHS.

"By using this new measure, states will be more honest in holding schools accountable and ensuring that students succeed," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in the press release. "Ultimately, these data will help states target support to ensure more students graduate on time, college and career ready."

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville told the Boston Globe that comparisons between states still present challenges due to varying graduation standards.

Final rates are expected to be released in the coming months.

Bob Croce November 27, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Good to see improvement here, but being below the state average should be unacceptable for Peabody. These results coincide with the search for a new high school principal, so here's hoping the search committee will ask those candidates what their strategy would be for improving grad rates. We just wrote about this today in our blog. You can check it out at: http://bit.ly/RgtLvj. We'll also be discussing this tomorrow night, 8-9 p.m. on Channel 99 on the "You Make The Call" show: https://www.facebook.com/calldickandbob

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