Graduation at Crosby High School in Waterbury. CTMirror.org file photo
Photos from various graduation ceremonies. From left, Briggs High School in Norwalk; Crosby High School in Waterbury, High School in the Community in New Haven, and Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven CT State Department of Education

State officials celebrated another “record high” in graduation rates on Monday.

Graduation rates have substantially increased over the past five years. Of the state’s 180 high schools, 107 have increased their graduation rates by more than 1 percent, and 16 high schools saw increases above 10 percent. (See school-by-school rates below.)

“You ought to applaud that I think,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at a high school in New Haven while releasing the graduation rates.

However, not all schools had reason to celebrate, as 33 high schools saw their graduation rates decrease by more than 1 percent.

What to make of graduation rates has been a focus of much scrutiny in recent months, after a handful of educators testified during a school funding trial last year that it is possible to graduate high school – and be illiterate.

These rising graduation rates coupled with low standardized test scores and high demand for remedial courses when students reach college were among the reasons that Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled that the state fails to provide students with the education the state constitution says they are entitled to.

“What it means to have a secondary education is like a sugar-cube boat. It dissolves before it’s half launched,” Judge Thomas Moukawsher wrote in a scathing indictment of the education students receive in the state’s most impoverished districts. “State graduation and advancement standards are so loose that in struggling cities the neediest are leaving schools with diplomas but without the education we promise them.”

He ordered the state to end the practice of socially promoting students and come up with meaningful graduation standards. Members of the legislature do not seem poised to act and instead have said they intend to see if the Connecticut Supreme Court upholds the judge’s order.

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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