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12/12/2017 | TACOMA, Washington
TACOMA, Wash.—Tacoma’s graduation rate for the Class of 2017 reached 86.1 percent—the highest since the state began officially tracking the statistic in 2003 and the seventh straight year of gains, according to data submitted to the state by Tacoma Public Schools.
“Statisticians say three data points makes a trend. When we have seven data points trending upward, I believe we have developed a culture of high expectations, relentless use of data to better understand every student’s progress and nurturing those who need it,” said Superintendent Carla Santorno.
Santorno presided over the official unveiling of the 2017 graduation rate at a short celebratory ceremony today at Titlow Lodge where students from Gray Middle School participated in front of district staff and community leaders.
After the release of the Class of 2011 graduation rate of 61.7 percent, the School Board set a bold goal in 2012—graduate 85 percent of Tacoma students by 2020. How bold? Consider that in 2007 a national researcher labeled all Tacoma’s comprehensive high schools as “dropout factories” in a news story published across the country. And as recently as 2010, Tacoma high schools graduated 55 percent of students.
“As much as we rely on data—and we certainly do—the most important thing to me is that every decimal point we improve means more students whose lives we have reset on a new trajectory of success, not just in school but in life,” Santorno said. “Think about this: if the Class of 2017 had graduated students at the same rate as the Class of 2010, 565 of the students who graduated would have dropped out instead.”
Santorno once again praised the leadership of high school principals, the hard work of teachers and guidance counselors and the support of caring staff members at all grade levels throughout the district for looking out for “every student, every day.”
The final 2017 graduation report, sent by the district to the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI), included the following notable achievements:
Closing “graduation gaps” remains a strategic priority set by the School Board—and the 2015 graduation statistics provided multiple years of notable gains.
Graduation rates went up since 2013 for nearly every racial demographic:
Of note, Black, Hispanic, Pacific Islander students all graduated above the 2016 statewide average for all students.
Perhaps most startlingly, low-income students graduated at 80.9 percent in the Class of 2017.
“For all the people in Tacoma and across the country who say students of poverty and students of color in urban school districts will never make it, our students will tell you a different story,” Santorno said. “Our School Board members made equity a key element of our district strategic plan, and our schools have embraced it. As powerful as these numbers are, I’m convinced we can continue to close those historic, persistent gaps even more.”
On-time graduation rate by high school
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...
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