National rankings show Tennessee high schools with rise in grad rates

National rankings show Tennessee high schools with rise in grad rates

Rep. Mark Maddox (D-Dresden) was called to explain the rise in Tennessee’s high school graduation rate at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) recently held in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.  All southern states were represented at the meeting of this organization that was formed 60 years ago to help states make improvements in the region’s education level.
According to statistics published by the SREB, Tennessee’s high school graduation rate has improved by at least two percentage points a year since 2002 leading the nation in improvement. The Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) is the rate that is used most often to compare states’ success in four-year graduation rates.  In Tennessee, the AFGR was 73 percent in 2007. Early results for 2008 show the rate to be 75 percent.  This 15-point rise is the best in the nation.
In his remarks, Maddox pointed to the leadership of the Tennessee Department of Education and Governor Phil Bredesen setting a high improvement benchmark in 2002 and asking local principals to include how they were going to reach the goal in their School Improvement Plans.  “Once the goal was set, school leaders got serious.  Our great teachers took over, did the work; and we began to make progress,” said Maddox, an educator in Weakley County.
Another reason stated for the rise in graduation rate was a 2001 law that requires high school students make “satisfactory academic progress” or lose their license to drive.  “Hardly anything gets a student’s attention like not being able to drive,” commented Maddox.
Tennessee set a graduation rate goal of 90 percent under No Child Left Behind.  Large gains in the Memphis City Schools and the Hamilton County Schools, two of the state’s largest districts, contributed significantly to Tennessee’s success.
Maddox continued, “Small rural schools have been doing pretty well and had to make smaller incremental improvements to reach their goals.  Some larger, urban schools had to make bigger leaps. Teachers, parents, and students in all schools met the challenge. In Tennessee, we understand that high school graduation is one of the first steps to a good economic future.”
For more information, visit www.sreb.org.  Maddox is currently the Technology Coordinator for Weakley County Schools.

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