OSPI NEWS RELEASE: Washington State Graduation Rates Continue to Rise; OSPI Releases New Graduation Data

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State Superintendent Chris Reykdal


Washington State Graduation Rates Continue to Rise; OSPI Releases New Graduation Data

OLYMPIA — February 22, 2017 — A high school diploma is one way to know a student is ready for a career, college and life. The graduation rate is one way to know if the K-12 system is meeting the needs of all students.

Today, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released an update to the graduation data and analytics that will help school districts as they work to increase their graduation rates and improve equity among student groups.

Graduation Rates

Overall, the state graduation rate for the Class of 2016 is 79.1 percent, an all-time high. That represents a 1.0 percentage-point increase from 2015, or an increase of 1,528 students.

The “extended graduation rate” – which includes students who take five years to graduate – is 81.9 percent for the Class of 2016, also an all-time high.

The group making the largest gains in four-year graduation rates are homeless students. For the Class of 2016, 53.4 percent of homeless students graduated, compared to 44.9 percent in the Class of 2015.

“Graduating an additional 1,528 students will have an enormous economic benefit to our state, in addition to improving the lives of these young people,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “High school graduates produce over $370,000 more in lifetime earnings than their peers who do not graduate. Because of this, our state can count on well over $500 million in additional economic activity just from last year’s graduation improvements.”

“The hard work of our students, parents, and educators is paying off for all of Washington state,” Reykdal continued. “With the right investments from the Legislature this year, we can count on substantial future gains for our students and our state’s economy. Amply, fully, and equitably funding our schools is both a moral commitment and a smart business decision for our state.”

Ninth Grade Course Failure

In addition to data on graduation rates, OSPI also released data for the first time on the instances of students failing at least one ninth grade core course – math, English or science – which is an early indicator that a student could drop out of school.

“This is incredibly valuable information for districts to have,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Research has shown that students who pass all of their core courses in the ninth grade are four times more likely to graduate than their peers.”

The data also show that in 2016 statewide, a little more than one in five students (22.5 percent) failed at least one core course in ninth grade.

Although this is the first year ninth grade failure rates have been released, OSPI was able to calculate data for the past three years. Improvements were found to have been made across most student race categories. This includes decreases in ninth grade course failure by 3.9 percentage points for Hispanic students and 3.3 percentage points for students of two or more races.

OSPI is taking a closer look at key performance indicators that lead to student success. These data sets will help school districts identify opportunities to improve equity between student groups and learn from each other about what does and does not work.

Next Steps

School districts can use the analytics tool to compare themselves to the state numbers and to other districts with similar demographics, paying close attention to student groups that may be struggling.

More Information


Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Director

About OSPI

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI works with the state's 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.

Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at 360-725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.