How the city improved high school graduation rates is a lesson for the future

Sunday, 12 November 2017, 10:09:38 AM. Mayor Kenney, who has been focused on improving education in the city, said the higher graduation rates were especially gratifying given the budget gaps the district has struggled with.
The high school graduation rate for Philadelphia public schools used to be so disappointing that the district tried to hide it. The words “about 50 percent” were typically used by various official spokesmen, as if that softened the reality that half the children in city high schools didn’t graduate in four years, if at all. That history fueled the celebration Thursday when Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. announced the city’s graduation rate, now 67 percent, had gone up for the third straight year. The announcement was made at Lincoln High School, which has been in the vanguard of schools making significant academic progress. Lincoln’s graduation rate jumped 12 points to 79 percent. The biggest increase, 16 percent, was at Strawberry Mansion High, but that gave it only a 52 percent graduation rate, which serves as testimony to the challenges to education that students and teachers face in that North Philadelphia neighborhood just east of Fairmount Park. Mayor Kenney, who has been focused on improving education in the city, participated in the festivities at Lincoln. Kenney pointed out that the higher graduation rates were especially gratifying given the budget gaps the district has struggled with since the recession. “We’re sorry about that,” said Kenney. All will be forgiven if he makes good on a promise to cover the $100 million deficit that the district expects by 2019. That deficit could grow to $1 billion over five years without significant additional funding. The...Read more
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