DPS touts gains in high school graduation rate

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit Public Schools’ high school graduation rate rose last year to 77.4 percent, continuing an upward trend in the state’s largest school district.

The rate increased more than 6 percentage points in 2015, bringing the district’s rate to within 2.4 points of the statewide rate of 79.8 percent.

DPS’ graduation rate has risen every year since 2008, when it was 58.2 percent; the same year, Michigan’s rate was 75.5 percent.

The district’s dropout rate fell by nearly 7 percentage points to 11.5 percent last year.

DPS reported having seven schools with graduation rates above 90 percent:

■Davis Aerospace High School — 100 percent

■Benjamin Carson School for Science and Medicine — 99.01 percent (1st graduating class)

■Cass Technical High School — 98.33 percent

■Communication and Media Arts High School — 97.67 percent

■Renaissance High School — 97.50 percent

■Osborn Academy of Mathematics and Technology — 93.75

■Detroit School of Arts — 91.89 percent

Eleven DPS high schools surpassed the statewide graduation rate of 79.79 percent. In addition to the seven schools above, the others are: Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School (88.13 percent), Detroit International Academy for Young Women (85.29 percent), Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy (81.54 percent), and Western International High School (80.98 percent).

“These improved graduation and dropout rates are a true testament to the hard work of the District’s teachers and students,” said interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather in a statement. “Although there remains much work to be done, this continued positive trend signals that there is real progress being made within Detroit Public Schools. We are fully committed to further improvements as we strive for a 100 percent graduation rate, and will make our students the focus of every decision that this District makes.”

Detroit Public Schools graduated 2,555 students in June 2015.

While 12 of the district’s 20 high schools made gains, Communication and Media Arts High School (CMA) made the largest gain from 2014 to 2015, with an increase of 12.5 percentage points and a graduation rate of 97.7 percent, 20 points above the district average.

Despite the improved graduation rates, the district continues to struggle with a financial crisis that may result in a lack of employee paychecks after April 8.

State Treasurer Nick Khouri told the House Appropriations committee in Lansing last month that the Legislature must act on a legislative rescue package now being debated.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes said without help, schools will shut down.

State lawmakers are preparing to consider a $50 million supplemental spending bill that would help DPS avoid insolvency, at least in the short run.

The House and Senate are considering legislation to rescue and restructure DPS, which is saddled with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, falling enrollment and numerous dilapidated school buildings.