While always low nationally, Louisiana’s public high school graduation rate is 77.5 percent after the second largest yearly increase in the past decade, state officials announced Monday.
The 2015 figure, the latest available, is up 2.9 percentage points over 2014.
“Really, it is clear evidence that when you raise expectations for young people, they will follow through and create opportunities for themselves and their lives,” state Superintendent of Education John White told reporters.
The national average in 2014 was 82.3 percent.
Exactly where Louisiana ranks now is unclear. It typically falls in the mid-40s in state to state comparisons. The increase nationally was 0.9 percentage points.
Gains in Louisiana by black students — 3.5 percentage points — outpaced the state as a whole. That rate is 71.4 percent, up from 67.9 percent in 2014.
“We can only say great things about this,” White said of the improvements by black students.
He said 57 of the state’s 69 districts showed gains in their high school graduation rates.
White noted that the class of 2015 is the first to take part in the LA4 pre-kindergarten program.
The latest increase is second only to the 2011 class, which rose 4.2 percentage points.
Among districts, Ascension has a 87.7 percent graduation rate, up 0.6 percentage points over 2014; East Baton Rouge, 67.2 percent, up 1.0; Jefferson, 73.3 percent, up 1.4;Lafayette, 75.9 percent, up 7.1; Livingston, 83.8 percent, up 4.2; Orleans, 75.2 percent, up 2.5; St. Bernard, 84.8 percent, up 5.8; St. Charles, 88.7, up 4.8; St. John, 77.8. up 0.4; St. Tammany, 82.9 percent, up 3.4; West Baton Rouge, 79.4 percent, up 5.7; West Feliciana, 87.3 percent, down 5.0; Zachary, 91.4 percent, up 2.9; and Central, 87.6 percent, up 4.4.
The rate for the state-run Recovery School District in New Orleans is 61.4 percent, up 0.3 percentage points.
House Education Committee Chairwoman Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, said the latest gains reflect the push in recent years to raise academic achievement.
“The improvement in the graduation rate is a tangible measure of the success of those efforts,” Landry said.
The state made sweeping changes in public school operations in 2012, including tougher rules for teachers to earn job security.
Hollis Milton, who leads the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, also said pre-K classes have had an impact on the state’s improved graduation rate.
Milton is superintendent of the West Feliciana Parish school system, which had pre-K classes before the effort took off statewide.