Jindal announces La.'s graduation rate reaches all-time high

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana State Superintendent of Schools John White announced Thursday that, for the second consecutive year, Louisiana's graduation rate has increased--reaching an all-time high of 72.3 percent of students completing high school in four years. This percentage represents the graduation rate for students who began high school as freshmen in 2008. This progress marks a .9 percentage point increase over the previous year and a ten-percentage point increase over the ten years.

Flanked by students and educators, Governor Jindal and Superintendent White made the announcement at Dutchtown High School in Geismar, where the graduation rate has increased by 4.5 points to 94 percent – more than 20 points above the state average.

Governor Jindal said, "Since entering office, we have worked to reform and improve our education system to ensure that every child in Louisiana has the opportunity to get a great education. Indeed, we have eliminated ineffective programs and invested in programs that improve outcomes for students.

"These reforms are working for our students. Graduation rates have reached an all-time high and more students than ever before are better prepared for higher education or a job in the workforce. This is great news, but we should not declare victory yet. We will not stop working until every child in Louisiana has the opportunity to get both a great education and the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century workforce."

"This increase in the number of Louisiana students graduating is a clear sign that the changes set in motion in the schools of our state are working. These steps, along with the dedication of educators and families, have produced great results," said State Superintendent John White. "We will keep on improving, but we can never go back. There is never a reason to retreat from the commitment we have made to our kids."

"These results show what we can accomplish when we work together as a state and challenge everyone to excel," said Chas Roemer, president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). "It is also clear we still have more to do, and we will continue working to provide every child in the state with ample opportunities to reach his or her full potential."

BESE member Stephen Waguespack said, "These graduation rates are proof that the reforms we put in place for our children are working. Eliminating ineffective programs and focusing on those that work give our kids the tools they need to get a great education and succeed in the classroom. Today's announcement is great news, but we won't stop working. We'll continue making our education system better and more effective for our students so they can grow up, get a great job and pursue their dreams right here in Louisiana."

Governor Jindal said the results are a sign that Louisiana progress, and the education reforms that his administration has pursued are working for our students. Governor Jindal pointed out that the students in the cohort for this graduation rate achievement were in school at a time Louisiana redoubled its focus to improve educational outcomes. He outlined several reforms that have taken place while these students were in school:

· Letter grades were issued to schools in order to increase accountability and give parents a clear, accurate picture of the performance of the school their child attends. The state now factors in graduation rates when calculating letter grades.

· Ineffective dropout prevention programs were eliminated, including the Pre GED-Options program, which had a graduation rate of just 8 percent and replaced them with more effective programs, including Jobs for America's Graduates, which has a 95 percent graduation rate.

· The state instituted place rigorous standards that prepare students for college and careers.

· Louisiana put in place the nation's boldest plan for turning around low-performing schools through the Recovery School District, one of the fastest improving districts in the state with a graduation rate that is increasing rapidly, with an 8.9 percentage point increase from 2011 to 2012.