News

Reading's high school graduation rate inches up

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | May 19, 2015 3:41 AM
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(Reading) -- A recent national report paints an optimistic picture of how far Pennsylvania public schools have come.

Overall in the three years surveyed, the statewide high school graduation rate rose three percentage points.

Among the five largest districts, Reading finishes right in the middle when ranked by improvements in the high school graduation rate. 

In a district that is about 80 percent Hispanic, the graduation rate jumped six percentage points from 2011 and 2013. That pushes its rate just above Allentown for 2013, with the next closest - Philadelphia - at 70 percent.

Robert Balfanz, Co-Director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University's School of Education, says districts have seen success by adding services beyond the classroom walls.

"There's more challenges when you're poor to be able to get to school every day, to be able to focus when you're in school, and over time, if people don't give you enough support, those things add up," says Balfanz.

He says the work done by a number of schools lifted the rest of the state.

"Where they really made progress was actually in closing the black-white gap and the low income-higher income gap. In both those, Pennsylvania had the fifth best improvement of all states over that time period," he adds.

Balfanz says second chance and recovery options are key for success, along with proactive interventions that can keep students from falling behind.

Overall, in the three years surveyed, the statewide high school graduation rate rose three percentage points for Pennsylvania.

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