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Graduation Rates Improve Slightly in 2013
Fewer students dropped out of high school last year across Montana, report says
The number of high school graduates in Montana slightly increased in 2013, marking the third consecutive year of overall improvement, according to a new report released last week by the state’s Office of Public Instruction.

There were 9,111 high school graduates last year and 1,401 dropouts, resulting in an 84.4 percent graduation rate, according to the OPI. The graduation rate in 2009 was 80.7 percent and last year’s was 83.9 percent.

There were 247 fewer students who dropped out of school across the state in the 2012-13 academic year, leading the dropout rate to decline from 2.8 percent to 2.7 percent for grades 7-12. In the past five years, the high school rate has decreased from 5 percent to 3.6 percent, resulting in 772 fewer dropouts.

Denise Juneau, state superintendent of public instruction, credited the Graduation Matters Montana initiative with spurring communities and schools to work to improve students’ college and career readiness. Kalispell hosted its annual pledge event last week with more than 700 eighth grade students setting goals for high school graduation.

“Through the work of local Graduation Matters communities, hundreds of students’ lives have been changed for the better,” Juneau said. “When you take a statewide view of the efforts to raise graduation rates and improve college and career readiness, you can see that the economic future of Montana will be forever impacted as a result of local communities and schools working to make graduation matter.”

The latest figures did illustrate a lingering problem among American Indians, who have a dropout rate that remains significantly higher than all other demographics of students. While American Indian students make up 10 percent of statewide student enrollment, they account for 27 percent of dropouts in grades 7-12. Last year there were 329 American Indians who dropped out of school. Browning High School had a 7.3 percent dropout rate, one of the highest in the state last year, and a 66.7 percent graduation rate, one of the lowest.

Among the 1,401 overall Montana dropouts, 1,002 were deemed economically disadvantaged by OPI.

At Flathead High School, there were 328 graduates and 57 dropouts, an 81 percent graduation rate. Glacier had 305 graduates and 55 dropouts, an 83 percent graduation rate.

Dropout rates are highest in grades 11 and 12, accounting for 65 percent of all dropouts, according to the OPI.

Juneau remains a strong proponent of raising the state’s legal dropout age to 18 or upon graduation. It is currently 16 years old. Last week she reinforced her commitment to introducing future legislation enacting the higher limits.
On 02-12-14, MontanaTrace commented....
Having pending drop outs just waiting for a birth date is tough in the classroom. They don’t pay attention and do no work. Most don’t even bring their books to class anymore. What do they do? Anything they want or can get away with. They are a disruption…
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