More Mississippi students are graduating from high school than ever before. The national graduation rate last year was roughly 82 percent, and while Mississippi has yet to reach that national average, it is making steady ground.
This year, more than 80 percent of Mississippi’s 2016 seniors received a high school diploma. The most in history. That’s two percentage points more than last year, and six points higher than the 2013-14 school year.
J.P. Beaudoin is in charge of research and development at the state’s education department. He says the state’s graduation rate has seen a dramatic increase in recent years.
“Unprecedented over the last three years, not only in the state of Mississippi but if you look at improvements in other states, both in this region and throughout the country, that is continued upward trend in graduation.”
In addition to rising graduation rates, Mississippi saw a corresponding decrease in its dropout rate. Dropouts are students who do not receive a certificate of completion or degree before they leave school.
Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says there are a number of reasons for the increase.
“We’ve raised a level of rigor at the high schools,” says Wright. “We provided a lot more rigor for our teachers. We’ve built their capacity. I think giving kids more options because that allows the to capitalize on their strengths and not just hold a one size fits all for everybody.”
While the improving graduation rate is good news for the state, the number of disabled students attaining a high school diploma has continued to lag. This year only 33.6 percent of those students received a diploma.
This story was originally published by Mississippi Public Broadcasting on June 18, 2016.