BATON ROUGE, La. - The number of students graduating annually from Louisiana high schools has remained steady and more students than ever before are earning college credit and credentials valid in high-wage industries, according to results released recently by the state Department of Education.
The results also highlighted recent gains made by Louisiana graduates in earning eligibility for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS, and in completing forms to register for federal financial aid.
Nearly 39,000 students-about 77 percent of the graduation cohort-graduated with a diploma on time in 2016. Graduation has steadily risen over the past five years, with this year's class maintaining record gains made by the class of 2015. More than 3,500 more students graduated in 2016 than did in 2012. In its ESSA plan, Louisiana set a goal of raising its high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2025.
The numbers are well above the roughly 65 percent rate 10 years earlier, according to figures released Friday.
The long-term gains come amidst a five-year push by Louisiana schools to increase not only the number of annual college graduates but also the number of graduates earning employer-validated "Jump Start" credentials and early college credits through programs such as dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and International Baccalaureate (IB).
The results also highlighted challenges, however, that persist in the education levels of many Louisiana students and graduates.
In spite of profound gains in recent years, African-American students and students with disabilities continue to graduate and earn credentials at lower rates than the general population.
In addition, the results showed the struggles of some high schools serving large numbers of low-income students to achieve strong graduation outcomes, identifying such schools as "in need of comprehensive support" under the state's new plan to carry out the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.
"The Class of 2016 maintained the graduation gains of preceding classes and exceeded them in the education levels they achieved. More students than ever before are graduating already having earned college credit and high-value workplace credentials," said State Superintendent John White. "Our policies are working. But there is much more left to be done."
Also, nearly 2,500 more graduates in the Class of 2016 were eligible for TOPS than in the class of 2012, also sustaining record gains made by the Class of 2015.
Lafourche Parish showed a graduation rate of 84.4 percent, a 3 percent improvement since 2012/2013 and an almost 20 percent (19.6%) change since 2005/2006.
Among the priorities moving forward, Louisiana must focus on graduating more students and equipping them with industry-based credentials and college credit; expanding access to opportunities for all students and schools; and continue supporting financial aid access by requiring FAFSA completion for graduation.
Posted on Tue, June 27, 2017
by The Lafourche Gazette