As regular readers know, I have been tracking high school graduation rates in 14 states and Washington, DC.
I now have accessed another year of federally computed high school graduation rate data and can extend the study through the high school graduating class of 2009.
Here is my updated graph. It shows the annual rate of change in graduation rates (based on regression analysis of the data) in the 15 education jurisdictions shown from 2001 through 2009 (except for Nebraska, which adopted the age 18 rule several years after the other states).
The graph shows, for example, that the annual improvement in the graduation rate in Wisconsin was 0.85 of a percentage point per year. At the other end of the spectrum, Nebraska’s annual rate of decay in its graduation rate since 2004 is just over a full percentage point for each year since then.
These states were chosen because they have had an age 18 law in place long enough to develop some credible trend lines.
As you can see, only 4 of these states have notably better graduation rate improvement for the years in the study than the overall national average rate of improvement. Six of these age 18 dropout states actually have shown a DECLINE in graduation rate performance since they enacted this policy in law.
In any event, Kentucky House Bill 216, which would raise the minimum age for dropping out of school from 16 to 18 is still in the legislative hopper. This bill has been heavily pushed by Governor Steve Beshear and his wife as a way to stem the bleeding of students from our public high schools. Whether it will even get a hearing in the Kentucky senate remains to be seen.
Whether it will really do much to improve graduation rates – well, it isn’t working very convincingly elsewhere.