Denver Public Schools's graduation rate climbs while dropout rate stays the same

Categories: Education

Denver's graduation rate is on the rise. Statistics released today show that 56.1 percent of seniors graduated "on time" in the spring of 2011, as opposed to 51.8 percent in 2010. "On time" means they graduated four years after entering high school as freshmen. Meanwhile, the dropout rate stayed the same: 6.4 percent.

Last year, the Colorado Department of Education changed the way it calculates graduation rates, switching from counting all graduates regardless of how long it took them to complete high school to solely counting "on time" graduates. See below for a chart of how several of Denver's high schools fared this year compared to last year.

  • Abraham Lincoln High School: 63.5 percent of students graduated "on time" in 2011, up from 51.7 percent in 2010
  • CEC Middle College: 80.4 percent in 2011, down from 85.7 percent in 2010
  • Denver Center for International Studies: 90 percent in 2011, down from 92.5 percent in 2010
  • Denver School of the Arts: 97.5 percent in 2011, up from 96.8 percent in 2010
  • Denver School of Science and Technology: 80 percent in 2011, down from 80.7 percent in 2010
  • East High School: 87.6 percent in 2011, up from 80.7 percent in 2010
  • George Washington High School: 82.3 percent in 2011, up from 80.9 percent in 2010
  • John F. Kennedy High School: 77.4 percent in 2011, up from 77 percent in 2010
  • Manual High School: 68 percent in 2011 (no 2010 graduating class)
  • Martin Luther King Middle College: 91.5 percent in 2011, up from 89.6 percent in 2010
  • Montbello High School: 60.1 percent in 2011, up from 56.2 percent in 2010
  • North High School: 64.8 percent in 2011, up from 63.8 percent in 2010
  • Bruce Randolph School: 87.1 percent in 2011, up from 85.9 percent in 2010
  • South High School: 58.8 percent in 2011, down from 61.8 percent in 2010
  • Thomas Jefferson High School: 78.3 percent in 2011, up from 78 percent in 2010
  • West High School: 53 percent in 2011, up from 47.6 percent in 2010

District officials are declaring success. In a statement to the press, they pointed out that Denver's graduation rate has climbed ten points in two years, making it "fastest rate of growth of any of the twenty largest school districts in Colorado."

"This is very encouraging news for our community, and a testament to the work of our students, teachers and school leaders," DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg said. "Graduating students ready for success in college and career is our most important measure. I am thrilled to see such a large increase over the past two years.

"Nevertheless, there's still much more improvement needed. We need to make sure that the number of our graduates continues to climb."

Officials also noted that not counting Denver's alternative schools, which cater to students who've struggled in high school and generally have lower graduation rates, the district's graduation total was 70 percent in 2011, up from 66 percent in 2010.

More from our Education archives: "North High: How many seniors graduated from school that used credit recovery courses?"

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Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Melanie, the high school graduation rate in Colorado is a meaningless statistic because we know that half or more graduates have not learned twelfth-grade skills in mathematics, English, or both, and that some graduates lack a ninth-grade education.  Boasberg touts the increased rate of graduation and falsely implies that graduates are "ready for success in college and career ".  No journalist in Colorado should write another story about high school graduation rates, because doing so only serves the interests of those falsifying the abysmal facts and continues to mislead the public as to the nature of the crisis in our schools.


These schools' stats are going up because they are teaching to the tests and lowering the bar for graduation requirements.  Have these "graduates" write something or solve a math problem.  You'll see the kids are not getting any smarter.


Eliminate the DOE and get the Government out of Education. 


The Department of Energy or the Colorado Department of Education?  Are you willing to donate money to all of the people who would lose their jobs, in either case?

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