2013-2014 graduation rate hits 78.7%
Nashville has reason to celebrate its public schools as the official graduation rate at Metro Schools reaches new heights, rising more than 20 percentage points in the last 10 years. The 2013-14 graduation rate hit 78.7%, up from 76.6% in 2012-13 and 58.2% in 2003-04.
These dramatic gains point to long-term improvements district-wide in all tiers. Ten years ago, last year’s graduates were in second grade. As they moved through elementary, middle and into high school, they experienced firsthand major educational changes like the move to higher standards, increased focused on social and emotional learning and a seismic shift in educational technology. Teaching and learning in Metro Schools are wholly different enterprises than they were 10 years ago, and those changes were clearly for the better.
“This news is welcome, and it is due to the hard work of the teachers and students of Metro Schools. They are to all be commended for reaching this milestone,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register.
Year over year, the graduation rate at Metro Schools grew twice as quickly as Tennessee as a whole last year, rising 2.1 percentage point versus the state average of 0.9 percentage points.
“The changes we’ve seen in our high schools in the last 10 years are remarkable. They are completely different schools reaching students in completely different ways,” Dr. Register said. “Students are finding ways to learn that work for them. Through high school innovations like the Academies of Nashville, our magnet schools, Virtual School, Middle College and Big Picture, as well as the Academy schools at Old Cockrill, Opry Mills and Hickory Hollow, there are choices to fit every student’s needs.”
There are 24 high school options in Metro Schools, and nearly all of them are open for application to any student in the county entering grades nine through 12. The Optional Schools Application period opens Monday, Nov. 3, and every student will be able to choose the school that offers his or her best chance for success.
“Every student is different. They all have different interests, needs and styles of learning,” said Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele. “Our high school options give every student an individual path to graduation. That’s one of the biggest reasons why there has been such an enormous increase in the graduation rate. When students are more connected to what they are learning and are empowered to make their own decisions about learning, they can find their path and see it through to graduation.”
While district officials are proud of the increase in the graduation rate, they recognize it is still behind the national average and well below where it needs to be.
Steele said, “We continue making improvements to our high schools. The Middle Preps are working hard to keep students on track and focused during the key middle school years. The StrIDe program with MTA now makes it possible for high school students to have more transportation access to optional schools. As a district we are intensely focused on serving the whole child and giving all students the best chance for success at every level. All of these and many more strategies added together can lead to even bigger gains in the graduation rate. Now it’s up to us to keep working hard and make sure that happens.”