UPPER MARLBORO – Graduation rates have reached record highs in Prince George’s County Public Schools while dropout rates have fallen, according to the latest reports from the state. According to the data released by the Maryland State Department of Education, the four-year cohort graduation rate for PGCPS rose 2.5 percentage points from last year to […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Graduation rates have reached record highs in Prince George’s County Public Schools while dropout rates have fallen, according to the latest reports from the state.
According to the data released by the Maryland State Department of Education, the four-year cohort graduation rate for PGCPS rose 2.5 percentage points from last year to 76.6 percent — the highest graduation rate on record for the school district, according to system officials. The graduation rate for Hispanic students rose by 4.8 percentage points while the rate for African-American students rose by 2.6 percentage points.
Within the school district, Central High School, Forestville High School and Laurel High School saw the biggest one-year increases, gaining 8.72 percentage points, 6.15 percentage points and 5.82 percentage points, respectively. Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, Parkdale High School, Largo High School and Bladensburg High School also experienced increases of more than three percentage points. Bowie High School, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Gwynn Park High School and Charles Herbert Flowers High School all have graduation rates at or above the statewide rate of 86.39 percent.
PGCPS CEO Kevin Maxwell called the announcement “one of my proudest days.”
“Improving graduation rates was one of my top priorities when I returned to PGCPS as CEO,” Maxwell said. “The data shows that our strategic focus on academic excellence, developing a high-performing workforce and engaging with our families and communities is working. I commend our students, staff, teachers and administrators for their hard work in achieving this significant milestone.”
Maxwell attributed the increased graduation rates to a change in culture within the school system, hardworking teachers and administrators and an expansion of the school system’s credit recovery program.
The school system’s dropout rate also dropped to its lowest level since 2010 at 16.73 percent. Maxwell said the school system’s use of early-warning indicators helped lower the dropout rate.
“I think that our kids are rising to the challenge and their parents are being supportive of that,” Maxwell said. “And then within our system we put in an early-warning system last year where we’re providing to middle school and high school principals kids that are on this warning list that says you should be providing something for this student, some level of support, because this child is in danger of not going on to the 10th grade in high school, for example. That way, they can devote their time to doing the interventions and doing the work and not to the research.”
Despite the increased graduation rate and decreased dropout rate, PGCPS still ranks at or near the bottom of both categories statewide. The county has the second lowest graduation rate of any jurisdiction in the state, ranking only above Baltimore City, while the dropout rate still ranks as the highest in the state at more than three percentage points above Caroline County.
But Maxwell said PGCPS continues to close to the gap.
“Yes, I understand we’re still one of the lowest, but our rate of increase is greater than anybody else’s. Look at the other districts and how much they increased last year—nobody increased 2.47 percent,” Maxwell said. “…We are very, very aware of it. And if we grow another 2.47 percent next year, we are going to start passing people. So that is what I would say to you on that, is we understand we are one of the lowest. We are not going to stay there.”
County Executive Rushern Baker III, who appointed Maxwell to his position, lauded the strides the school system has made since Maxwell took over. Baker also appointed four members to the Board of Education in 2013, including Board Chairman Segun Eubanks.
“I am excited to congratulate Prince George’s County Public Schools on this excellent news and progress,” Baker said. “Two years ago, we made bold moves intended to improve our schools in categories such as graduation and dropout rates. Today, we are seeing tangible results because of the school system and board leadership, the dedication of the principals, teachers, and support staff in schools throughout the county, and, most importantly, because of the hard work, persistence and tenacity of our students and their parents.”