Analysis: More Minority High School Students Graduating in Ohio Big Cities

COLUMBUS Ohio

Urban minority high school students, a group that historically has had low graduation and attendance rates in Ohio, now have a better graduation rate than Black and Hispanic students elsewhere in the state, an analysis by a group of school administrators and teachers found.

In the last six years, the average gap between the graduation rate of urban districts and others in the state has been cut in half, according to new state data.

Of the eight largest city school districts, seven had graduation rates for their Black students that exceeded the statewide graduation rate of 69 percent. The graduation rates for Hispanic students in Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo increased by at least 19 percentage points each compared with a 12 percentage point increase for Hispanic students statewide.

“This is concrete verification and evidence that our work in the urban classroom is paying off,” said Sylvester Small, superintendent of the Akron city schools.

The state data analysis was presented by Ohio 8, a coalition of superintendents, teachers and union presidents, at their two-day summit on urban education in Columbus last week.

All urban students are making gains, the analysis found. Although Cleveland’s graduation rate for all students in 1999 was 38 percent, or one of the lowest rates in the nation, the district’s graduation rate for 2005-2006 climbed to 55 percent. One urban district, Toledo, has a graduation rate of 90.5 percent, more than five points higher than the state average of 86 percent.

The improved performance could be due to a variety of reasons, urban educators, administrators and union leaders said. Training for teachers is improving and a greater variety of specialized magnet schools now exist to attract and retain students.

Another factor is the 2001 federal education law No Child Left Behind, which requires schools to divide data by race and ethnic background and holds schools responsible if individual groups of students fail.

About 230,000 of the state’s 1.8 million public school students attend schools in Ohio’s eight largest urban school districts: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown.

—      Associated Press



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