North Dakota’s graduation rate 2nd highest in the nation
By: April Baumgarten, The Dickinson Press
And the silver medal for the highest 2009 graduation rate in the country goes to … North Dakota!
The Peace Garden State came in with 85.9 percent, trailing slightly behind New Jersey with 87.4 percent, according to a Thursday press release from Education Week’s Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, a nonprofit publisher in Bethesda, Md.
“North Dakota does relatively well in terms of overall graduation rates,” said Greg Gallagher, Standards and Achievement director of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.
Wisconsin pulled off a third place percentage of 83.8. Minnesota took fourth at 82.6 percent, followed by Pennsylvania and Iowa, both coming in with 80.5 percent.
The national graduation rate reached 73.4 percent in 2009, the most recent data available. That’s the highest rate since the 1970s, according to the release.
The District of Columbia had the lowest graduation rate at 52.4 percent, followed by Nevada at 59.2 percent, New Mexico at 59.4, South Carolina with 61.7, and Mississippi at 62.2.
In 2011, 15 of North Dakota’s 179 school districts had a graduation rate less than 80 percent, according to the DPI. Graduation rates ranged from about 40 percent to greater than 95 percent last year.
“When you think of North Dakota, you can’t think of it as a homogenous state. It’s not,” Gallagher said.
Scranton Public School doesn’t have many dropouts, if any, said John Pretzer, SPS District superintendent and high school principal. Teachers get to know the 130 students that attend SPS and can work with them one-on-one, he added.
“A lot of our schools in North Dakota are smaller schools,” he said. “There are not as many cracks to fall through.”
Killdeer Public School Superintendent Gary Wilz, who oversees approximately 380 students, said it is historically typical for North Dakota to have a high graduation rate, adding the state should continue to see that trend.
“I think, as a general rule, people in North Dakota value an education,” he said. “They ensure that their kids come to school and that they stick with school until they graduate.”