Increased Graduation Rate at Cincinnati Schools Proves Improvement is Possible

Written by Patricia Hawke for

The recent news that the graduation rate from Cincinnati schools has increased from 51 percent to 79 percent is beyond simply very encouraging. The fact that this increase in the number of graduates from Cincinnati schools has come during a time when the academic expectations for students have increased makes this accomplishment even more impressive and potentially a model for any large school district to study.
No Gap Between Graduation Rates for African-American and White Students
The news item made a point of mentioning that the gap between graduation rates for African-American and white students had been closed. While ideally one would wish that such a statistic would not be necessary to reveal, the reality is graduation gaps between ethnicities are a major challenge among larger school districts and Cincinnati Schools are to be applauded for the effort and success of closing this gap while raising the overall standards and expectations of students.
Cincinnati Schools Did Their Homework to Make a Plan for Success
In hindsight, the preparation for this day began when administrators of Cincinnati schools studied the policies and procedures that were working on other jurisdictions with higher graduation rates for high school students. Administration assessed what could be taken and implemented to their school district and schools and set an ambitious goal - to increase the high school graduation rate to 75 percent and to close the gap between white and nonwhite students. More importantly, they devised a plan to reach that goal.
Other Districts Can Learn from the Success Achieved in Cincinnati Schools
This lesson in goal setting that worked so well for Cincinnati schools can be applied to other jurisdictions where the graduation rate for high school students remains a concern. The fact that the Cincinnati schools were successful in reaching their goal means that improvement is not only possible and achievable; it should be demanded by the public.  
The best way to be successful in school district goal setting is to find a jurisdiction that has obtained the results an aspiring school district aspires to and adopting the policies and procedures that got the results for the model jurisdiction. This seems simple enough. The difficulty is for school district leaders to mire through the agendas and personalities of school board members while working within limited budgets provided by the state.
Cincinnati adopted policies and procedures that emphasized the drastic life differences between graduates and non graduates. They have successfully reached potential drop outs by demonstrating that a young person who leaves high school before graduating may not realize at that time that their decision will significantly decrease their quality of life for years to come. Taking this step effectively closes most doors toward increasing their education later or selecting a career that is fulfilling and financially rewarding.
We all have a responsibility to the next generation to try to give them the tools they need for success. One basic tool is a high school diploma. The increased graduation rates at Cincinnati schools means that more young people will have a better chance of being productive, contributing members of our society.
A big congratulations to the administrators, staff, and students at Cincinnati schools for the excellent progress. Now is not the time to rest on your laurels, though - there is still room for improvement in the graduation rates.
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit <a target="_new" href="">Cincinnati Public Schools</a>.