A recent study shows both the Dallas and Fort Worth independent school district's graduation rates have gone way up while Arlington has fallen nearly 12 percent. In spite of the improvements, North Texas graduation averages still aren't all that great and are well below the national average.
The report, Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Dropout Gap, showed the graduation rate at Dallas ISD increased from a dismal 38 percent in 1995 to nearly 51 percent in 2005. For the same time period, Fort Worth's graduation rate increased 10 percent to 57 percent.
The bad news ... While still boasting one of the highest graduation averages of large Texas cities, Arlington dropped 11.6 percent to a graduation rate of 60.3 percent.
Dallas' 13 percent gain was the 7th highest increase of all big-city districts in the study -- Fort Worth ranked 12th on the list. While improvements are worth celebrating, Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington are all well below the national average graduation rate of 71 percent.
The latest news from around North Texas.
A total of 50 districts in the nation's largest cities were studied, with Philadelphia showing the largest increase at 23 percent (62.1 percent graduation rate). The worst performers were students in Las Vegas, whose graduation rate plummeted from 68 percent to 45 percent.
In all, 19 of the 50 cities showed a decrease in graduation rates for the same period and 16 cities failed to graduate more than 50 percent of their students.
Parents needing ammunition to keep their kids enrolled should cite the following facts revealed in the study.
- Those who drop out of high school are less likely to be steadily employed, and earn less income when they are employed, compared with those who graduate from high school.
- Only one-third (37 percent) of high school dropouts are steadily employed and this group is more than twice as likely to live in poverty.
- The survey revealed the grade at which the most students drop out in Dallas is the 9th grade (nationally, most students drop out in the 9th grade).
- The urban-suburban graduation gap in Dallas is severe with the graduation rate for urban schools trailing their suburban counterparts by 16.8 percent.
- The economic returns to education show that high school dropouts in Dallas earn only $15,252 a year, compared to local high school graduates who earn $24,403.
Perhaps one of the most motivating of statistics is the final one:
- High school dropouts were the only group of workers whose income levels declined over the last 30 years.
So how did other cities fare? The Top 10 are listed below along with other notable Texas cities.
- No. 1 - Philadelphia showed a 23.2 percent improvement, going from a graduation rate of 38.9 percent to 62.1 percent.
- No. 2 - Tucson showed a 22.7 percent improvement, going from a graduation rate of 48.9 percent to 71.6 percent.
- No. 3 - Kansas City showed a 19.7 percent improvement, going from a graduation rate of 33.6 percent to 53.5 percent.
- No. 4 - El Paso showed a 13.9 percent improvement, going from a graduation rate of 46.6 percent to 60.6 percent.
- No. 5 - Portland showed a 13.1 percent improvement, going from a graduation rate of 55.4 percent to 68.6 percent.
- No. 6 - New York City showed a 12.8 percent improvement, going from a graduation rate of 37.8 percent to 50.5 percent.
- No. 7 - Dallas showed a 12.7 percent improvement, going from a graduation rate of 38.2 percent to 50.8 percent.
- No. 8 - Columbus showed a 12.6 percent improvement going from a graduation rate of 32.1 percent to 44.7 percent.
- No. 9 - Mesa showed a 12 percent improvement going from a graduation rate of 64.6 percent to 76.6 percent.
- No. 10 - Austin showed a 11.5 percent improvement going from a graduation rate of 47.5 percent to 58.9 percent.
- No. 12 - Fort Worth showed a 10.4 percent improvement going from a graduation rate of 46.1 percent to 56.5 percent.
- No. 14 - Houston showed a 9.8 percent improvement going from a graduation rate of 43.1 percent to 52.9 percent.
- No. 21 - San Antonio showed a 6.4 percent improvement going from a graduation rate of 40.9 percent to 47.3 percent.
- No. 47 - Arlington showed a 11.7 decrease in their graduation rate, going from 72 percent to 60.3 percent.