Tennessee High School Graduation Rates Soaring - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee High School Graduation Rates Soaring

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by Scott Arnold

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A new report has revealed our state's dramatic improvements in education. The report showed high School Graduation rates are rising faster in Tennessee than any other state in the country.

In 2002, the state had some of the lowest graduation rates in the country. Only 59 percent of students were graduating. As of 2008, the number jumped to 75 percent. Locally, that number keeps rising.

General Colin Powell's group America's Promise Alliance compiled the data for the report. It discovered why Tennessee has come so far.

Some initiatives date back to 2001, when a new state law required high school kids to stay in class or have their driver's license suspended. Another reason for success is that Tennessee's K-12 budget has increased, even in a declining economy.

Metro Schools are a bright spot. Their graduation rates have continued to climb for many reasons.

"One of the main things was the establishment of freshman academies," explains Jay Steele with Metro Public Schools.

In all 12 high schools, freshman academies closely monitor student development, and search for warning signs.

"A real focus has been paid to the kids that are real potential drop outs, and we have some indicators that are pointing to kids with GPA's, with attendance rates, with discipline," said Steele.

Research shows if a student can get past ninth grade, the chances are that they will graduate.

Also, by changing the size of schools, Metro has stopped having a one size fits all mentality when it comes to teaching.

The district has a new goal now, they want to hit a 90-percent graduation rate by 2014.

Back in 2003, the graduation rate for Metro Students was 58 percent. In 2008, it reached 73 percent.

New numbers for the 2009-2010 school year should be out in a matter of days. It's reported they have increased steadily again.

Email: sarnold@newschannel5.com

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