Study says 36% fail to graduate
Education officials say the report is flawed, relying on estimates and not actual data
Hawaii ranks near the bottom of a national study on public school graduation rates, but state Department of Education officials dispute the research and its conclusions.
Education Week magazine released a national study today that says 30 percent of public school seniors either flunk out or fail to graduate on time.
The study, based on 2003-04 data, estimates that 36 percent of Hawaii's seniors don't graduate with their class, ranking Hawaii 41st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Hawaii education officials say their figures for the 2005-06 year show that 20.8 percent of its students couldn't graduate with their class.
STATE GRADUATION RATE RANKS 41ST IN NATION
Nearly 36 percent of Hawaii public high school seniors can't graduate on time, but they also have to earn more credits than many mainland students to get a diploma, according to a national report released today.
The report by Education Week magazine estimates that the national graduation rate is 70 percent, meaning more than 1.2 million public school students, fail to graduate with their classmates. Native American, Hispanic and African-American students were the most likely to flunk their senior year.
Hawaii's graduation rate of 64.1 percent gave the state a rank of 41st among the states and the District of Columbia, according to the study, which looked at data for the 2003-04 school year.
Utah topped the chart with a graduation rate of 83.8 percent while South Carolina came in last, with just over half of its students leaving school on time.
State education officials have repeatedly challenged the accuracy of the annual report, saying it relies on estimates and probability and doesn't track actual students throughout the four years of high school. State Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said Hawaii uses a system adjusted to account for students who leave the islands as well as those who transfer from other states during high school.
"It really is less accurate," he said of the Education Week study. "That is just flat-out wrong."
According to the state Department of Education, 20.8 percent of its students couldn't graduate in the 2005-06 school year. Of those, 15.7 percent dropped out and the remainder have either completed high school with a special certificate or continue trying.
Meanwhile, Education Week noted the 22 credits that Hawaii students need to complete is more than the national average of 20.4 credits, and nearly double the 13 credits required in Wyoming, Wisconsin and California. Hawaii will soon join four other states -- Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia -- that have the steepest graduation requirement of 24 credits.
Incoming high school sophomores in Hawaii will be the first class to face the higher credits, Knudsen said.
Other highlights of the report:
» Students who finish college can get paid nearly three times more than they would with just a high school degree.
» Eleven states define what students should know and be able to do to be prepared for college, and 14 states, including Hawaii, are working on a definition.
» Hawaii is among 30 states that don't define whether students are ready for jobs.
» Hawaii and 23 other states award advanced diplomas or some type of formal recognition to students exceeding basic graduation requirements.