Maryland high school graduation rates fall slightly as students face added requirements

Maryland’s statewide high school graduation rate fell slightly in 2019, while some Baltimore-area school districts saw somewhat larger declines.

The new graduation figures, released Tuesday by the Maryland State Department of Education, showed 86.9% of students graduated statewide last year, dipping from 87.1% the previous year.


The rate dropped most in Baltimore City, where it fell 1.85 percantage points to 70.3%, followed by Baltimore County, where it declined 1.5 percentage points to 87.6%.

Baltimore City school officials linked the decline to new, tougher graduation requirements put in place for the class of 2019 in Maryland. The class of 2019 was the first class required to obtain a minimum score on the English and Algebra I PARCC assessments, which have been used for four years. In lieu of passing the test, students may work with a teacher on a project designed to show they have learned the material.


“The new graduation requirements raised the bar for all Maryland students, and our results reflected the historical outcomes for schools and students when they implement new standards. Nevertheless, our students performed admirably,” said Baltimore schools chief Sonja Santelises, in a statement.

The Evening Sun


Get your evening news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the

Baltimore County education officials said in a statement that while the graduation rate declined, the county’s rate remains above the state average. Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams said in a statement that he wants to increase classroom staffing to help students.

“It will take all of our coordinated efforts — from the earliest grades, during and outside of school — to ensure that students meet this crucial milestone."

Maryland is among a minority of states in the United States that requires students to pass exams in order to graduate from high school.

Maryland education officials did not comment on the graduation rates.

Gaps in graduation rates continue to persist between student groups. For instance, the graduation rate for English language learners was 53.7%, up slightly from 2018 but still lower than any other student group in the state. The graduation rate for students with disabilities was 63.5%, down nearly three percentage points, and for economically disadvantaged students was 80%, down nearly four percentage points.

Harford and Howard county school systems saw increases in the graduation rate. Harford went from 89.2% to 90.2% in 2019. Howard’s rate grew from 91.9% to 92.8%. Carroll remained at 95 percent or higher, although the state will not release exact data if more than 95 percent of students are graduating because of privacy rules.

Anne Arundel County schools saw about a graduation rate decline of just less than 1 percentage point to 88.3%.