Politics & Government

Kentucky's graduation rate improved during 10-year period, report says

Kentucky had the nation's third-highest improvement in high school graduation rate between 2000 and 2010, Gov. Steve Beshear said Monday.

The data, reported in a special edition of Education Week, showed that Kentucky's graduation rate improved by 13.5 percentage point during the 10-year period.

According to the report, Kentucky's graduation rate, which was 63.7 percent for the Class of 2000, climbed to 77.2 percent for the Class of 2010, the latest year for which data is available.

"In just 10 years, Kentucky has made significant progress in increasing the percentage of students who graduate from high school," Beshear said. It's taken a coordinated effort by teachers, administrators, parents, business leaders and community members to keep our students in school and on track for graduation."

Beshear said that a high school diploma is "the gateway to postsecondary education and the workplace, leads to personal success and more robust economy for all Kentuckians."

State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said he was pleased with the results, but added more improvement is needed.

"Our goal is that every student not only graduates from high school, but also graduates ready for college or career," Holliday said.

The Kentucky General Assembly has adopted legislation that will raise the compulsory school attendance age to 18, once 55 percent of the state's school 174 public school districts have adopted the policy.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said in a statement Monday that the graduation rate improvements offers both "opportunities and obligations."

Further improvements will depend on additional reforms to "undergird" the new mandatory attendance age, such as reforms in the state juvenile justice system.