District's Charter Schools Graduated 80 Percent of 2011 Class

4/9/2012, 11:52 a.m.

Washington, D.C. --Four-year graduation rates released by the District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) show that 80 percent of public charter high school students from the class of 2011 graduated on time. This percentage is in close alignment with the graduation rates of neighboring, affluent suburbs such as Fairfax and Montgomery County public schools.

"DC's public charter schools serve a high percentage of at-risk students, many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college," said Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board. "A four-year graduation rate of 80 percent is a testament to the hard work of all of DC's charter school leaders. While there is reason to celebrate, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that all students are able to finish high school and receive a diploma."

Washington Math Science and Technology Public Charter School -- which serves all low-income, African American students -- had the distinction as the charter high school with the highest graduation rate.

It had an on-time graduation rate of 91 percent, the same as Fairfax County Public Schools, which has a substantially different population with just over a quarter of its students low-income and 10 percent African American.

The SEED Public Charter School of Washington (90 [percent), Booker T. Washington Public Charter School (86 percent), and Friendship Public Charter School - Collegiate Academy (86 percent) all had rates at or above Montgomery County Public Schools.

OSSE calculated graduation rates for the 2010-2011 school year under the new Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) - the method now required for all states by the U.S. Department of Education. The ACGR is determined based on the total number of students who graduated with a regular diploma in 2011 within four years.

Many charter schools require students lacking sufficient credits to take a fifth year to graduate. These graduates are not reflected in the four-year graduation rate.

"While graduating in four years is a laudable goal, we should also celebrate those students who take the extra time they need to earn their high school diploma," Pearson added. " And we should recognize that charter school graduation rates would be even higher were these graduates to be included in the calculation."