Michigan’s high school graduation rate passes 80%

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Michigan’s high school graduation rate surpassed 80 percent last school year for the first time in 11 years, state education officials said on Wednesday.

According to data released by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information, the 2016-17 graduation rate was 80.18 percent, up from 79.65 percent in 2015-16.

That means out of 121,253 seniors, 97,218 graduated in four years.

Michigan’s dropout rate fell to 8.65 percent for the 2016-17 school year, down .26 percentage points from the previous year. The state had 10,486 dropouts in 2016-17.

Five of the state’s 10 largest school districts, which also had the largest number of students in the cohort class of 2017 – 1,200 to 3,230 – improved their rates.

They are: Dearborn City School District: 94.69 percent; Ann Arbor Public Schools: 89.66 percent; Chippewa Valley Schools: 92.25 percent; Walled Lake Consolidated Schools: 93.17 percent; and Livonia Public School District: 92.28 percent.

Michigan’s largest district, Detroit Public Schools Community District, had a graduation rate of 78.22 percent for 2016-17, slightly down from 78.3 the year before.

“This is the first time the statewide four-year graduation rate has surpassed 80 percent since we started calculating rates by cohorts eleven years ago,” said CEPI Director Tom Howell. “This increase is in line with how the statewide graduation rate has been trending gradually upward.”

CEPI calculates graduation rates by tracking individual student enrollment records from the time they enroll as ninth-graders. CEPI also reports graduation rates for students who remain in high school five and six years.

Both the five-year and six-year graduation rates are relatively unchanged from 2015-16 at 82.76 percent and 83.56 percent respectively, state education officials said.

“An 80 percent statewide graduation rate is a new watermark for our schools. They’ve worked hard to steadily improve,” said state school Superintendent Brian Whiston. “This is another important step in helping Michigan become a Top 10 education state in 10 years. We aren’t there yet, so we need to keep working and moving forward.”