INDIANAPOLIS – It’s graduation season and an increasing number of Hoosier high school seniors are donning a cap and gown. According to the 2015 Building a Grad Nation report, Indiana’s high school graduation rate was up more than one percentage point in 2013 and at 87 percent, higher than the national average. Report co-author John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises, says there are clear advantages to earning a high school diploma.
“Students who drop out of high school are disproportionately more likely to be unemployed, more likely to be in prison, more likely to be on welfare, have higher health care costs and sadly to go on to have children who also end up dropping out from high school,” he says.
According to the report, for the third year in a row, the country remains on pace to achieve the national goal of a 90 percent on-time high school graduation rate by 2020. To increase the number of students graduating, the report recommends states expand the use of early-warning systems that can indicate a child needs intervention and make state funding more equitable so low-income and affluent students have the same opportunities.
According to the report, graduation rates increased nationally among low-income students over the past three years, but are still lower than for middle and upper class students. Report co-author Robert Balfanz of John Hopkins University says poverty is taxing on a student’s success, making it more difficult to attend and focus.
“They really need mentors and tutors and folks that can help just sort of nag and nurture to make sure if they’re not in school to call them to figure out can we get you to school by 10 o’clock, what’s the issue, how can we solve it,” says Balfanz.
While an increasing number of students with disabilities are completing high school, the report found students with disabilities in Indiana graduate at a rate of 69 percent.