Nearly 78 percent of Tri-City high school students graduated on time in 2015, a figure that has been improving since Washington changed the way it measures graduation rates.
This week’s Benton-Franklin Trends report looks at how many students graduate four years after they start their ninth grade year. The methodology was established by the No Child Left Behind Act and has been used since the 2010-11 school year. In three years, the Tri-City on-time graduate rate has risen 2.5 percentage points.
Statewide, 78 percent of high school students graduated in four years in 2015. The number jumps up to 81 percent when students who took an extra year are included.
Prior to 2011, Washington used a complex formula that included dropouts, transfers and students who took more than four years to complete high school. It also exempted students enrolled in special education and other programs, which the new system does not.
The new system is a simple measurement of how many first-time ninth graders went on to graduate four years later and does not exempt anyone. The change makes comparisons to earlier data impossible.
Not surprisingly, high school diplomas are a gateway to jobs and future earnings.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median weekly earnings for those without high school diplomas was just $493 in 2015, 43 percent below the median for all workers. The unemployment rate for workers without high school diplomas was 8 percent, compared with 5.4 percent for those who had a high school diploma but no additional education.
(T)he median weekly earnings for those without high school diplomas was just $493 in 2015, 43 percent below the median for all workers.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Here’s a look at how Tri-City schools fared under the new measuring system.
Pasco recorded the lowest on-time graduation rate at 73 percent. It was also the most-improved. Its graduation rate rose more than eight percentage points over the three-year period, according to figures drawn from the Washington Superintendent of Public Schools office.
Richland had the highest on-time graduation rate at nearly 82 percent, but the lowest gain. Richland’s on-time graduation rate rose about one point during the three-year period.
In Kennewick, 78 percent of students graduated on time, a 4.4-point improvement.
Benton-Franklin Trends is an initiative of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University to measure the educational, civic and financial life of the Tri-Cities using state and federal data.
It publishes a weekly snapshot at bit.ly/BFTrends.
Mid-Columbia graduation rates*
- Columbia (Burbank) 73.3%
- Finley 85.1%
- Grandview 65.9%
- Kennewick 78%
- Kiona-Benton City 63.6%
- Mabton 85.5%
- North Franklin 89.2%
- Othello 75%
- Pasco 73.1%
- Prosser 73.2%
- Richland 81.9%
- Sunnyside 89.2%
- Toppenish 64%
- Touchet 88.2%
- Walla Walla 80.4%
- Yakima 65.3%
*Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction, 2014-2015 Graduation Rates