Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) graduation rate rose to a record high this year, with more than 94 percent of the class of 2017 graduating on time, according to data released today by the Maryland State Department of Education.

The 94.74 percent graduation rate for the class of 2017 is the highest for CCPS students since the 2010-11 school year when Maryland standardized the way schools report rates. The graduation rate rose from 92.17 percent in 2016. The CCPS graduation rate has increased steadily since 2011, more than 10 percentage points, when 83.36 percent of all students graduated within four years.

“High school graduation is among the most important achievements in education, coupled with students who graduate career and college ready. Our goal is for all students to finish with their class, and each year more and more Charles County students are staying in school until graduation,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill said.

Six of seven high schools posted graduation rates greater than 90 percent.

  • Henry E. Lackey High School: 95.2 percent
  • La Plata High School: 97.3 percent
  • Maurice J. McDonough High School: 88.83 percent
  • North Point High School: 96.71
  • Charles High School: 96.13
  • Thomas Stone High School: 91.22
  • Westlake High School: 95.7.

Most minority groups and subgroups saw a rise in on-time graduation rates in 2017.

  • Asian: 97.26 percent;
  • African American: 94.53 percent;
  • Hispanic/Latino: 82.08 percent;
  • White: 97.27 percent;
  • Two or more races: greater than 94.23 percent;
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 100; and
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: 90.91 percent.

Hill credits the increased rate to the persistence and hard work of CCPS teachers and staff. “Our teachers and administrators work hard every day to ensure students are achieving, both academically and personally. Our teachers adapt instruction to the learning needs of all students and strive to push them toward success and graduation. This success is a result of the dedication and commitment of our staff. They are the driving force behind our increased graduation rates,” Hill said.

Special education students saw the highest increase in graduation rates, increasing the number of students graduating on time by 10 percentage points. However, gaps persist between all CCPS students and students identified in the special education, free and reduced-priced meals (FARMS) and Limited English Proficiency subgroups. Hill said she is encouraged by the growth among its special population subgroups; however, the school system still has work to do. The superintendent’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget includes a request for the addition of 10 permanent instructional assistants for English Language Learners (ELL) and special education. Charles County’s special education and ELL student population increases are among the highest in the state.

Graduation rates for other subgroups include:

  • Free and reduced-price meals (FARMS): 89.06 percent, up from 83.33 percent;
  • Special education students: 80.63, up from 70.52 percent; and
  • Limited English Proficiency: 44.44 percent, a decline from 73.33.

The percentage of students dropping out of school decreased. The CCPS four-year cohort dropout rate decreased from 4.31 percent in 2016 to 3.12 in 2017. The state’s dropout rate was 8.21 percent in 2017. Dropout rates provide a cumulative rate across the four years since the cohort first entered Grade 9. This rate includes dropouts as those students who did not graduate after four years but did not return for a fifth year.

The cohort graduation rate follows a set group of students from freshman year through their senior year. The state includes both the four-year cohort and five-year cohort rate in its accountability program. Data released this week is for the four-year cohort graduation rate for the class of 2017 and includes summer graduates. The calculation follows students from the time they first enter Grade 9 and includes those who graduate after four years.

Graduation Rate – Four-year Cohort Rates at a Glance

Charles County Public Schools – All Students

SchoolGrad rate 2017Grad rate 2016Dropout rate 2017Dropout rate 2016
La Plata97.395.831.542.38
North Point96.7196.632.191.47
St. Charles96.1394.192.822.9
Thomas Stone91.2287.464.396.9
Charles County94.7492.173.124.31

 Why graduation rates improved

Hill said the school system has embedded a number of programs and procedures to ensure students stay in school and succeed.

  • The school system offers a number of alternative education options including credit recovery, the Virtual Academy and evening high school.
  • Staff at the school system and school level closely monitor students, beginning as early as eighth grade. Monitoring includes tracking and developing actions plans for students who are out of their cohort. Each school has an assigned administrator who monitors the credit recovery program.
  • The new transcript identifies students needing still needing credits for graduation based on student’s graduation plan.
  • Central office staff reviews the transcripts for all seniors’ who did not meet graduation requirements and implements a plan for each student to complete graduation requirements.
  • Principals and senior counselors sign each graduates’ transcript and confirm each graduate has met graduation requirements. 

How CCPS audits graduation data

  • Central office staff reviews seniors’ transcripts at the beginning of school, mid-year, and end-of-the-year.
  • All students are assigned a graduation plan. Graduation plans identify specific courses needed for graduation. Graduation plans are updated by schools and monitored by central office.
  • Any teacher requesting a grade change must complete a grade change form and provide a detailed explanation for requesting the grade change. The principal reviews the request, and submits the grade change form to the central office. The Deputy Superintendent reviews all requests for grade changes. Approved grade changes are entered into the database by central office personnel. Schools are not able to make grade changes in the database.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

Image via the Charles County Board of Education