81 percent of the class of 2014 earned a diploma within four years, according to the latest numbers from the Rhode Island Department of Education. The state's high school graduation rate ticked up one percentage point from 2013, and was up four percentage points from 2011.
Dropout rates dropped by one percentage point to 8 percent.
Looking at individual districts, East Greenwich and Portsmouth tied for the highest graduation rate at 96 percent. Woonsocket had the lowest rate at 58 percent. Tiverton, Pawtucket and Chariho all saw significant improvements in their graduation rates.
Newport, Providence and Central Falls were all in the bottom 10, with 70-71 percent of students earning a diploma after four years.
Central Falls' graduation rate dipped slightly from 2013 after a major effort to overhaul the city’s only high school. However, the district's five year graduation rate improved from 62 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2014, which may reflect new efforts to help struggling students.
Based on the numbers, the Rhode Island School for the Deaf continues to struggle. The school graduated just 25 percent of students on time last year, a significant decrease from 2013.
It remains unclear what impact a testing requirement might have had on graduation rates for the class of 2014. Many students received extra math and English instruction in an effort to improve their test scores and earn a diploma. The policy was later revoked, but critics were concerned it might push more students out of school.
State education leaders noted that the overall graduation and dropout rates improved despite the policy.
“2014 was a year in which we raised expectations for our high-school students, so it is especially pleasing to note that in 2014 we continued the trend of improvement,” said Patrick A. Guida, Chair of the State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education.