Connecticut graduation rates show improvement

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — New figures show Connecticut’s high school graduation rate has improved for the fourth consecutive year.

And the education gap between the inner cities and the more affluent suburbs appears to be closing.

“All the trends are going in the right direction and we’re seeing disproportionate progress for our students of color and our students in poverty,” said Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday the improvement shows efforts to boost state education funding, especially to poorer districts, is working. Malloy is expected to tout his education record in his re-election campaign.

“For the fourth consecutive year more students who entered high school are graduating overall,” Malloy said.

Data released Wednesday show the statewide graduation average increased by 0.7 percent, from 2012 to 2013. That represents a cumulative increase of 3.7 percent over the 2010 high school graduation rate.

Even though the statewide rate was up only slightly, the inner cities showed the most progress.

Just six years ago, the Hartford graduation rate was 28 percent. It is now over 71 percent. That was an increase of 6 percent over last year. Waterbury was up nearly 4 percent, Bridgeport one percent, New Haven 0.5 percent.

Since 2010, the black/white gap in graduation rates has been reduced 21 percent; the Hispanic/white gap reduced by 14 percent; and the graduation gap between economically disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers reduced by 17 percent.

At a Wednesday news conference, Hartford’s acting superintendent said that the kids themselves are making the difference, participating much more in so-called student success centers where they get more individual attention.

“We’re seeing kids voluntarily going into the student success centers and they are ultimately reaching graduation and reaching graduation with a meaningful diploma,” said Dr. Jacqueline Jacoby. “That’s as important as the number.”

Educators point out that a real diploma is much more important than a GED. As an example, they mention that a GED may not get you into the Army but a real diploma will.

While Malloy stressed how graduation gaps between white and minority students shrunk, a disparity still remains. While 91.4 percent of white students in 2013 graduated in four years, 70.2 percent of Hispanic students and 75.7 percent of black students graduated in four years. Rates improve if students get a 5th year.

Mark Davis reporting

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