HISD dropout, graduation rates at best levels yet
New Houston ISD numbers show both the district’s dropout and graduation rates are at their best levels since Texas began using an accountability system in 2007.
Released Monday morning during a news conference by Superintendent Terry Grier, the data showed the district’s class of 2011 dropout rate of 11.8 percent has been cut almost in half since 2007, while the graduation rate of 78.5 percent increased 13.2 percent for the same period.
For the class of 2010, the dropout rate was 12.6 percent, while the graduation rate was 74.3 percent.
“This is big time news to see this type of improvement in our district,” Grier said, adding the success had “big implications for the city” in terms of an improving work force.
With 9,070 graduates last year, a 30 percent increase over 2007, Grier said there was no single reason for the inroads, but cited the opening of Grad Labs, a computer-based credit recovery initiative that began in high schools in January 2010, as an important step forward. About 20 percent of graduates in 2011 took at least one Grad Lab course, the data showed.
“Houston students are proving they are willing — and more than able — to achieve academically when we show faith in them and put them in a position to succeed,” said board president Mike Lunceford, in a written statement. “We all know the dropout rate remains a critical problem in our city, but we are making strong progress. The students, with help from the school administrators and teachers, have made a concerted effort to stem the tide of dropouts”
Grier suggested the new districtwide literacy initiative, designed to train teachers to better help those who have fallen behind in English skills, also will lead to fewer dropouts and more diplomas.
“The Board of Education and administration come up with the initiatives to drive student achievement,” Grier said. “But it takes strong professional educators in the schools and classrooms to make these plans work and produce the kinds of results we are seeing in HISD.”
With the number of students in HISD currently near the 200,000 level, the same as in was in 2007, the district pointed to a decrease in total freshmen of 1,260 students, about 8 percent and an increase in sophomores, juniors and seniors as a positive sign, too.
“It means we are not just concentrating on the seniors,” Grier said.