Have High School Graduation Rates Improved at Urban Schools?

by | May 8, 2017 | Graduation Rates

It should come as no surprise that the number of high schools dropouts are greater within cities as opposed to dropout rates in urban areas. What you may not know and be shocked at are the numbers. The magnitude of the gap in dropout rates is probably a lot higher than you would have imagined. The fact of the matter is that in the country’s 50 largest cities, only 53% of high school students graduate while urban high schools see a 71% graduation rate. That’s an incredibly large gap.

It’s startling to think that researchers within this study have dubbed city schools as “dropout factories”. While not all of the gaps are as large within certain city/urban studies, many areas have a shockingly large gap in graduation rates.

For example:

Cleveland, OH has one of the highest dropout rates when comparing the city schools with those that are located in Cleveland’s suburbs. When researched, Cleveland city schools showed that only 38% of freshmen graduated within a four-year period. When we looked into the graduation rate of Cleveland’s suburbs, 80% of their freshmen made it to graduation. That is a massive gap.

Baltimore, MD isn’t far behind in the dropout/graduation gap. They showed a city graduation percentage of 41 while their suburban schools had an 81% graduation rate.

You’re probably wondering why you haven’t heard these numbers before now. The biggest reason for most of us not knowing the real numbers is due, in part, from an amazing amount of false data being submitted by the districts. The Department of Education once stated that graduation rates had risen to above 80% in many states. This information is very much inaccurate. Behind the false information were a large number of bad reporting methods. Many areas were even found to have labeled those dropouts that had obtained their G.E.D. as graduates.

In 2002, No Child Left Behind did not improve this false information issue. Some places were allowed to submit information that defined its rate as the percentage of enrolled seniors who received a diploma. Those that dropped out prior to graduation were ignored in the count.

Many believe that the reason for such dropout rates within city schools is due to the quality of teachers. Meaning, that suburban teachers are more caring, have better teaching methods, and higher quality of education themselves. That being said, there is action being taken in an effort to have more qualified teachers placed into city schools in an attempt to allow the children of city schools to have access to the same quality teachers that the suburban children have. It is the hope that by taking this form of action will see a higher graduation rate for city schools in the years to come.


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