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CCPS maintains highest graduation rates in Maryland, 2019 data show

Carroll County Public Schools maintained its high graduation rate of 95% or greater, keeping it in place as tops in the state even as Maryland’s average rate fell slightly in 2019.

The school system’s dropout rate was less than 3% of the class of 2019, according to the new graduation figures that the Maryland State Department of Education released Tuesday.

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Queen Anne’s County was the only other of the state’s school districts to achieve a 95% or greater graduation rate.

Because of regulations designed to prevent the identification of individual students, the state will not release the exact percentage of graduates beyond the announced rate of more than 95%.

Manchester Valley High School likely saw the largest change, declining to 92.74% after being in the 95% and above category in 2018. Winters Mill High School moved into the 95% and above category from 94.49% the previous year, and Francis Scott Key High School dropped from the 95% and above category to 94.55%.

At Manchester Valley High, 281 diplomas were earned in 2019, and seven more would have needed to be earned to reach the 95% and above category.

The other four high schools, Century, Liberty, South Carroll and Westminster, all remained at a percentage of 95% and above.

In addition to Carroll’s full-service high schools, the Carroll data includes students enrolled in The Gateway School and the Flexible Student Support program. The Gateway School, an alternative school for students who need more individual attention, saw an increase to 59.26% from 56.67% in 2018. Those in the Flexible Student Support program dropped to 78.72% from 85.96% in 2018. Both of these are smaller groups of students with cohorts less than 50.

Statewide, the new graduation figures showed 86.9% of students graduating down from 87.1% the previous year.

The state toughened up graduation rates for the class of 2019, requiring a minimum score on the English and Algebra I PARCC assessments, which have been used for four years, or completion of a project. Maryland is among a minority of states in the United States that requires students to pass exams in order to graduate from high school.

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Jason Anderson, chief academic, equity and accountability officer for CCPS, said the school system is very proud of where they sit with the graduation rate. They recognize the collaborative effort of the teaching staff that works with students every day and the school-based and system-based leaders who work to provide resources.

However, there is still much work to do to serve all students in the system, he said. English language learners saw a decrease year over year in the graduation rate, and Hispanic students saw a small drop as well. CCPS is “working very hard to engage that portion of our community because that is one portion of our community that continues to grow each year,” he said.

Graduation rates for African American students and students who identify as two or more races increased, Anderson said. White students, who are the largest racial demographic in CCPS, remained at a 95% or higher graduation rate.

Gaps continue to persist between student groups in Maryland. For instance, the graduation rate for English language learners was 53.7%, up slightly from 2018 but lower than any 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.

The graduation and dropout data for every high school in Maryland can be found at http://reportcard.msde.maryland.gov under “Data Downloads.”

School districts in the Baltimore region saw slightly larger declines than the state average, which Baltimore City school officials linked the decline to the tougher graduation requirements.

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“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,” schools chief Sonja Santelises said in a statement.

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% or higher, although the state will not release exact data if more than 95% of students are graduating because of privacy rules.

Anne Arundel County schools saw about a 1 percentage point decline in graduation rate from 2018.

This story has been updated.

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