High school graduation rates in Wyoming have crept upward since 2012, according to a press release from the education department.
In 2016, 80 percent of students graduated within four years. That’s higher than the state’s rate has been in a while, but still falls short of last year’s national average of eighty-three percent.
State Superintendent Jillian Balow says that although the state has more work to do, these incremental gains are worth celebrating.
“Some of our schools that had historically struggled with graduation rates, including Arapaho and Fort Washakie, have seen around a thirty percent increase in their graduation rates over the last two years,” Balow said. “Again, this points to the progress that’s really being made.”
Balow said as the legislature decides how to handle an education funding shortfall, she’s making sure not to forget about other proposals that would improve Wyoming’s school performance.
From the department’s perspective, she said any situation where a significant portion of students are not graduating is not acceptable.
“[It] is on us as a Wyoming Education System to determine what it is about school that is not relevant,” Balow said. “It is my belief that when we focus strongly on career, college, and military readiness, versus only college readiness, then we can help retain some of those students in high school to help see them through to graduation.”
Balow highlighted a bill sponsored by the education committee that would reward schools that gave students opportunities for career training. She said focusing on the 20 percent that are not completing high school in four years is the best way to boost graduation in Wyoming.