MDE: Mississippi’s high school graduation rate highest ever at 88.4%; Dropout rate falls to 8.5%

Below is a press release from the Mississippi Department of Education:

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) released today the 2020-21 school year graduation and dropout rates, which reflect the highest statewide graduation rate of 88.4% and the lowest statewide dropout rate of 8.5%.

Rates are based on students who entered ninth grade for the first time during the 2017-18 school year. Among students with disabilities, the graduation rate increased to 59.9%, and the dropout rate was 18.4%. 

graduation rate

MDE’s latest figures mark a continuing positive trend for Mississippi’s students. The statewide graduation rate was 74.5% in 2014 and has increased annually. The statewide dropout rate has continued to improve, falling from 13.9% in 2014.  

Dropout Rate

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will release the 2019-20 national graduation rate later this year.

“Even when taking into account the pandemic’s effects on instruction and assessments, more Mississippi students are continuing the upward trend of staying in school and earning their diplomas,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “One of MDE’s goals is for every student to graduate from high school ready for college and career, and we will continue the essential work to support educators, families and students to achieve success.”

The MDE has implemented various programs and initiatives to help students stay in school and earn their diplomas. Several factors that may have contributed to the latest graduation and dropout rates include the following:

Endorsements – High school students have the opportunity to earn an endorsement with their high school diploma. Starting in ninth grade, students choose whether they want to work toward a traditional diploma, or take additional classes to earn an academic, distinguished academic or career and technical education endorsement. Students can earn more than one endorsement.

Each diploma option prepares students to be successful after graduation, whether in the workforce, a career and technical training program, the military or college.

Students who earn an academic or distinguished academic diploma endorsement from a public high school automatically qualify for admission into any of the state’s public universities. The endorsement opportunity has been phased in starting in 2018-19 and will be fully implemented for all students graduating in 2022.

Mississippi Early Warning System – The MDE developed this program in 2016 that offers guidance to school districts and schools to identify, support, and monitor at-risk students in grades K-12. Intervention is provided for students who need assistance to reach graduation and be ready for college and career.

COVID-related waivers – Due to COVID, waivers were granted for high school end-of-course assessments in the 2020-21 school year. Students did not have to earn a passing score on the assessments but still had to meet all other state and district requirements to graduate.

Graduation rates for 2020-21 will be reflected in the accountability ratings for the 2021-22 school year. View the 2022 Graduation Rate Report at mdek12.org/OPR/Reporting/Accountability/2022.

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