Miami Herald | By Sommer Brugal | January 6, 2022
High school graduation rates in public schools in Miami-Dade County increased during the 2020-21 school year, while rates in Broward County declined slightly for the first time in at least three years, the Florida Department of Education said Tuesday.
In the 2020-21 year, Miami-Dade achieved a graduate rate of 90.1%, an increase of 0.5.% from the previous year, records show. In Broward County, 89.1% of high school seniors in public schools graduated last school year, a decline of 0.3% from the previous year’s rate of 89.4%, data show. Both districts’ graduation rates include charter school data.
Nevertheless, Broward schools Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright applauded the hard work of students, teachers and administrators.
“The past two years have been challenging for our students and school communities due to the pandemic,” she said. “We remain committed to providing all students with the resources and support they need to be successful.”
FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE TOPS 90 PERCENT
Florida’s graduation rate was 90.1%, up just slightly from 90.0% in the 2019-20 school year, according to the report. Since the 2016-17 year, the statewide graduation rate has increased nearly 8 percentage points, records show.
The report details the percentage of students who graduate within four years from when they first enroll in ninth grade. The calculation does not include students who left to be home-schooled or enrolled in private school.
There are caveats to the numbers, however. State officials for a second time waived state exams typically required of graduating seniors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While 7.1% of the 2019-20 graduating class graduated without taking their exams, about 8.5% of the state’s 2020-21 graduating class graduated with the exemption, according to the report.
DISPARITIES IN GRADUATION RATES
Despite overall improvements in recent years across the state, achievement rates statewide vary across race, data show. The graduation rate among white and Asian students, for example, exceeds the graduation rate of Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Native Hawaiian students, according to the report.
Last school year, 97.5% of Asian students and 91.8% of white students statewide graduated on time, compared with 87.1% of Black students, 89.4% Hispanic students, 89% of American Indian and 89.5% Native Hawaiian students earning diplomas, records show.
Those disparities can be seen in South Florida districts, too.
In Broward County public schools, Asian students had the highest graduation rate of 96.3%, records show, followed by 96.2% of Native Hawaiian students, 92.7% of white students, 89.1% of Hispanic students and 86.6% of Black students.
In Miami-Dade public schools, 98.6% of Asian students graduated on time, compared with 93.6% of white students, 92.9% of American Indian students, 90.9% of Hispanic students and 85.6% of Black students. There was no data for Native Hawaiian students in the district, according to the report.
ACHIEVEMENT GAP CONCERNS
Despite the high graduation rates, Miami-Dade has contended with a significant achievement gap resulting from a majority of its Black students failing state tests in math and science and in English Language Arts.
During a school board presentation last year, administrators in the district’s Office of Academics and Transformation detailed how in the 2018-2019 school year, only 40% of Black students in grades 3 through 10 passed the FSA English language arts exam, compared with 61% of Hispanic students and 77% of white students. For the math FSA exam, the results were only slightly better, with 44% of Black students passing, compared with passing rates of 63% among Hispanic students and 78% of white students.
In a recent interview with the Herald, Carvalho acknowledged the achievement gap, but applauded the work that’s been done to close it.
“Miami-Dade has established a track record of actually reducing those gaps in a better, more sustainable way than most of America,” he said in December. “Are we where we should be? Absolutely not. Have we cracked the code in ways that other districts haven’t? Absolutely.”
Carvalho reinforced that message in a statement Wednesday, saying officials are “encouraged and energized by (the 2021 graduate rate) results, as they are a testament to the extraordinary efforts of our resilient students and dedicated workforce.”
This story was originally published January 6, 2022 3:10 PM.