Idaho sees slight improvement in high school graduation rate

Graduation rates by district
District: 2014-15 percent, 2015-16 percent
• Snake River: 93.5, 95
• Shelley: 96.6, 95.6
• Firth: 89.9, 88.7
• Blackfoot: 65.4, 73.7
• Idaho Falls: 72.2, 72.6
• Bonneville: 76.2, 77.6
• Butte: 89.5, 88
• Challis: 85.7, 82.2
• Fremont: 92.8, 91
• Jefferson: 84, 85.6
• Ririe: 97.8, 94.7
• West Jefferson: 89.5, 94.5
• Salmon: 76.3, 72
• Madison: 87.2, 91.2
• Sugar-Salem: 98.3, 93
• Teton: 83.1, 86.5
NOTE: A couple of local districts that are so small numbers were withheld in one or both years to protect student privacy are not included.

Idaho’s high school graduation rates crept up by almost a point in the 2015-16 school year, but the state dropped a bit in its ranking compared to other states due to improvements elsewhere, according to federal data.

The national numbers released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics show a 79.7 percent graduation rate in Idaho for the 2015-16 class, up from 78.9 percent in 2014-15. The 2015-16 national average was 84.1 percent, up from 83.2 percent the year before.

This puts Idaho at 40th in the country, tied with Washington and Michigan, just behind Kentucky and ahead of Arizona, for 2015-16. In 2014-15 Idaho was 39th, ranking behind New York and ahead of Georgia.

Looked at by subgroups, from 2015 to 2016 graduation rates in Idaho improved by a point or two for most, dropped by one-tenth of 1 percent for economically disadvantaged students but dropped more markedly for Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander students. Graduation rates went from 71.2 percent to 73.7 percent for Hispanic students, from 75 to 78 percent for black students, and 80.8 to 81.4 percent for white students. But for Native American students, it dropped from 66 to 58 percent, and for Asians/Pacific Islanders from 84 to 80 percent.

In the nonethnic subgroups recorded in the data, graduation rates went from 72 to 71.9 percent for poor students, 72 to 73 percent for students with limited English proficiency, and 58 to 60 percent for students with disabilities.

The federal rankings only list states and don’t go deeper than that. However, the by-district numbers on which the state’s number is based have already been reported to the State Department of Education. Generally speaking, graduation rates in the region are higher than the state average, although the districts that came in lower than the average include some of the biggest in the area. The Snake River, Shelley, Ririe and West Jefferson districts had the highest in the area in 2015-16, coming in above 94 percent.

Bonneville Joint School District 93 had a 77.6 percent graduation rate for 2015-16, a little more than two points below the state average but up from 76.2 percent a year before. Idaho Falls School District 91 had a 72.6 percent graduation rate for 2015-16, up from 72.2 percent the year before.

“We’re happy to see that little bit of uptick and we’re always (trying to) do what we can to help students be successful and graduate on time,” said district spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne. One thing the district has done to increase graduation rates is to encourage some students to take flex courses through the Idaho Digital Learning Academy. The district also has been trying to do more to follow up with students who drop out and make sure they are aware of other options that are available to get their diplomas. And, it has developed an initiative to help freshmen with their transition into high school, examining things such as instructional practices and student culture and providing mentoring.

“We know that engagement and belongingness are key to keeping students in school,” Wimborne said.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757.