Monday, March 19, 2012

Good graduation news for Washington

The graduation rate in our state is on the rise, according to a Johns Hopkins University study. Back in 2002, Washington’s on-time graduation rate stood at 72.2 percent. By 2011, that number had risen to 75 percent. Also worth mentioning: the number of schools graduating less than 60 percent of students decreased by 17 percent.

Study after study shows us that an educated populous is vital to economic growth and stabilization, and the financial ramifications of dropping out are felt almost immediately. The Alliance for Excellent Education reports that in 2005 the average annual income for a high school graduate was $26,933. The annual income for a high school dropout was at an average of $17,299. It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that the extra 9,000 bucks a year adds up pretty quickly.
Photo credit: Electron

In Olympia we’ve been working hard to raise graduation rates. Just last year the legislature approved the Pay for Actual Student Success (PASS) Act. The bill promotes the use of existing, proven dropout prevention strategies and stipulates that a portion of the payment is reserved until successful reduction of the dropout rate has been measurably achieved. The PASS Act marked the first time a pay-for-outcomes element has been used in Washington’s high schools.  

Upon the bill’s passage, prime-sponsor Rep. Tim Probst said that “Left unchecked the state budget will almost certainly cause our high school dropout rate to go up. That’s unacceptable to me. I think it’s a state fiscal imperative, a moral imperative and an economic imperative to get our graduation rates up.”

To read this story in Spanish, click here.