High school graduation rates are at an all-time high across the U.S., according to data released by the White House. And Utah sits just above the national average.
More than 83 percent of high school students across the country are graduating. In Utah, the number is slightly higher than the national average, nearly 85 percent.
This data isn’t new. It’s numbers reflect the 2015 graduating class and have been available for some time. But now we can see how Utah stacks up compared to the rest of the country. And as a state we’re above average.
“Those increasing scores didn’t just happen," says Bryan Bowles, professor of education at Brigham Young University and former superintendent of the Davis School District.
He says the graduation rate of over 84 percent is the result of a concerted efforts of schools statewide. Efforts he took part in during his time as an administrator in Davis.
“We put up on the screen a picture of the student who was lacking credits," says Bowles. "We looked at their history, their testing, at their current grades and we said, 'What’s preventing this student from graduating?'”
Bowles says this one-by-one approach made a big difference, along with more mindful office management.
"We’re being very careful with record keeping and tracking students," says Bowles. "And assuring that in 9th grade, I’m taking responsibility for the graduation of all of this group unless somebody else takes responsibility.”
That's in direct response to federal guidelines introduced back in 2010. Since then, schools track graduation rates compared to their 9th grade cohorts rather than just the senior class.
Along with an increase of nearly 9 percent over the last five years statewide, Utah has seen graduation rates rise for every race and ethnic group, including students with disabilities.