BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In 2018, more students in Louisiana than ever graduated from high school, according to statistics from the Louisiana Department of Education.
Also noted in the report, more students than ever graduated with college credits, industry credits, and earned TOPS scholarships.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REPORT
- Graduation Rate: The state’s high school cohort graduation rate increased from 78.2 percent in 2017 to 81.4 percent in 2018. The graduation rate has improved 9.1 percentage points since 2012, a faster pace over time than the national growth of only 4.6 percentage points. Louisiana graduated 40,124 students last year, up from 39,395 in 2017 and 35,332 in 2012.
- College and Career Credentials: The number of graduates earning early college credit and industry career credentials valued in high-wage industries climbed since the previous year, from 23,932 to 24,835. The number of graduates earning such credits and credentials has climbed by 6,385 since 2013. The percent of Louisiana’s graduation cohort earning college and career credentials increased from 47.5 percent in 2017 to 50.4 percent in 2018, and the credential rate has improved by 12.9 percentage points since 2013.
- TOPS Eligibility: The Class of 2018 saw growth in the number of students who were eligible for TOPS scholarships. Whereas in 2012, 16,289 students were eligible for a TOPS award, in 2018, 21,280 students were eligible for the award, a 31 percent increase.
“The positive results announced today reflect many years of relentless focus in our schools, and more progress is on the horizon. As we celebrate extraordinary increases in high school graduation, post-secondary credentials, and TOPS, let us recommit ourselves to assuring a path to what comes next for every graduate,” said State Superintendent John White.
Other highlights from the report include:
- Louisiana’s African-American graduation rate is, for the first time, higher than the national average. More than 78 percent of African-American students graduated in this cohort, up from 72.9 percent in 2017 and nearly 66 percent in 2013. The latest average national graduation rate is 77.8 percent.
- Historically disadvantaged student groups are narrowing the graduation achievement gap with their peers. Nearly 76 percent of economically disadvantaged students graduated in this cohort, up from about 73 percent in 2017 and nearly 68 percent in 2013. Nearly 60 percent of students with disabilities graduated in this cohort, up from 52.6 percent in 2017 and less than 37 percent in 2013.
- More students than ever before earned Advanced college and career credentials. Of the students in the Class of 2018 who earned credentials, 15 percent earned Advanced credentials, such as passing an AP or CLEP test, or earning a National Center for Construction Education and Research, or NCCER, level-two credential in a craft trade. In 2013, less than 4 percent of graduates earned Advanced credentials.
- A record number of students in the Class of 2018 submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to fund their post-secondary pursuits. Eighty-four percent of public high school seniors submitted the FAFSA by the July 1 priority deadline in 2018, an increase of 17 percentage points from the previous year. The Class of 2018 was the first to graduate under the state’s Financial Aid Access Policy. To date, about 74 percent of the Class of 2019 has completed the FAFSA. Louisiana is currently No.2 in the nation for the number of FAFSA completions.
Also of note, the Iberville Parish School System is increasing its graduation rate as well.
“The Iberville Parish School System is increasing the graduation rate and strength of diploma by making high school more meaningful through relevant career and college pathways for our students. A 93.7 percent graduation rate, coupled with 69 percent of our students graduating with a Basic or Advanced credential, is much to celebrate. We are proud of our students, parents, school employees, and board for their diligence in ensuring students graduate from high school prepared for their chosen future whether that be college or the workforce,” said Iberville Parish Schools Superintendent Arthur Joffrion.
While the educational system in the state is making strides, the Department of Education says it still wants to improve in several areas:
- Identifying and supporting struggling students
- Supporting high schools to serve a rapidly growing population of students learning English
- Expanding Jump Start to better meet workforce needs in the state, particularly in STEM fields
- Utilizing federal funding to expand courses offered in high schools, as well as focusing on early college coursework and career/technical education
- Providing students who are on track to graduate, but not on track for post-secondary education or training programs, with a one-year extension to earn an associate degree, pre-apprenticeship, or advanced industry-based credential through the Louisiana Extension Academy