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Graduation rate rises in Delaware, officials point to emotional support from schools

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s high school graduation rate went up last year, but the dropout rate also rose. Still Department of Education officials say they expect graduation rates to continue to rise.

Overall, more kids in the First State dropped out of high school last year compared to the year before—with the dropout rate increasing from 1.4% to 1.7%. But the class of 2017 had a graduation rate of 85.75%, which is the highest of any since the state changed its calculation method in 2010.

Lindsay Lewis is an education associate in the Delaware Department of Education’s technology operations workgroup. She says these numbers are encouraging, because 2016’s dropout rate saw a significant decrease, and she believes the 2017 uptick is just leveling out. She also says she believes the increased graduation rate is part of an upward trend.

“There are all those regular things that we do to constantly push achievement for students, but there are also the unspoken things that we never talk about for graduation and a lot of schools are getting creative and just really supporting that emotional piece for a student,” said Lewis.

Lewis says mock contract signing ceremonies, ninth grade graduation photos and alternative learning programs have gone a long way to provide emotional incentive and increase the state’s graduation rate. She also points to new technology as being crucial for students falling behind on their credits.

“They do a lot of online credit recovery. So that once you lose that gap you’re not automatically set up to not graduate. That kind of credit recovery where you can still walk with your diploma is a really big step for our schools,” said Lewis.

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