The high school graduation rate in Michigan and the nation is headed for a reversal and is expected to decline in coming years, according to a national report released Tuesday.
Next year will show the greatest decline in high school graduates between 2014 and 2023, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education said in its analysis “Knocking at the College Door: Projections for High School Graduates 2016.”
Michigan will see an increase in high school graduating Latino students, while African-American graduations will be flat and white graduating will decline, according to Joe Garcia, president of the commission and former lieutenant governor of Colorado.
“Michigan, for the most part, will see flat and declining rates,” he said, attributing the change to declining birth rates. “There are certain areas where the Hispanic population’s growth will show increasing rates while the African-American high school graduation rate will be flat and it will be a declining rate for white students.”
According to the report, Michigan is the eighth highest producer of high school graduates in the country, with 98,500, on average, projected each year until the 2031-32 school year. The number of graduates is expected to be 88,000 in 2031-32.
“Our goal is to increase the percentage of high school students in Michigan graduating,” said Martin Ackley, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education. “Any decline in the overall number of students graduating may reflect the changing population and demographics in our state.
“Whatever that number of students is, our goal is to have them graduate with a high school diploma and additional career credentials or post-secondary credits to move forward in their education.”
In public schools, non-white graduates in Michigan will decrease by around 1,700 from 2012-13 to 2031-32. The number of white graduates will decline from 76 percent to 73 percent — around 17,500 fewer — in 2031-32 than from 2012-13.
The report says the pending national plateau is largely due to a decline in the white student population and counterbalanced by growth in the number of non-white public school graduates — Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders in particular.
For private schools, graduates from Michigan are projected to decrease 49 percent by 2031-32, with around 3,500 fewer graduates in 2031-32 than in 2010-11 (the last year for which data is available). Private school graduates were 6.4 percent of Michigan's total graduates in 2010-11, and are projected to be 4.4 percent of the total by 2031-32.
As a comparison, Indiana is expected to have a 5 percent increase in graduates between 2011-12 and 2018-19. Non-white graduates in Indiana will increase in number by around 6,600 from 2012-13 to 2031-32. In Ohio, non-white graduates will increase by around 7,700 from 2012-13 to 2031-32 while there is projected to be around 21,000 fewer white graduates in 2031-32 than there were in 2012-13.
The nation is projected to produce fewer high school graduates in all of the 10 graduating classes between 2014 and 2023, compared to the highest recorded number of graduates in 2013. The year of greatest decline is projected to be 2017, with about 81,000 fewer graduates, down 2.3 percent. Three years of growth are projected for 2024 to 2026, reaching about 94,000 more graduates in 2025 (2.7 percent) than in 2013. Between 2027 and 2032, the average size of graduating classes is expected to be smaller than those in 2013.
The number of high school graduates from private religious and nonsectarian schools is projected to decline at a greater rate than the overall trend, from 302,000 in 2011 (the last year for which confirmed graduate counts are available) to about 220,000 by the early 2030s – a decrease of 80,000 graduates, or 26 percent.