State Board digs deeper into low grad rate numbers

The State Board of Education has dug into Idaho’s low high school graduation rates — and found some stark patterns.

soltman
Don Soltman, State Board of Education

Graduation rates for the state’s alternative and virtual high schools are way below the overall 77.3 percent statewide rate for 2013-14, Don Soltman of the State Board of Education told legislative budget-writers Monday morning.

Virtual charter high schools had a 20 percent graduation rate, Soltman told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. The picture was somewhat better for districts’ alternative high schools, with a rate of 36 percent.

Traditional high schools had a graduation rate of 88 percent, while the state’s brick-and-mortar charter schools checked in at 91 percent.

The breakdown should help the State Board come up with strategies to boost the state’s struggling graduation rates.

Idaho education and political leaders have long pointed to the state’s high school graduation rates as a bright spot in the state’s K-12 system. But as Idaho Education News first reported in December, Idaho’s high school graduation rate actually ranked No. 41 in the nation.

Idaho is now using the nationally accepted standard for calculating high school graduation rates — tracking students from ninth grade through 12th grade, rather than just tracking grad rates of students entering 12th grade. That new calculation has resulted in a significant dropoff in Idaho graduation rates — but it now provides Idaho with numbers that can be compared with other states.

For more about Idaho’s struggling graduation rates, click here.