Press Release: High School Graduation Rate Shows More Improvement

Maryland's Four-Year Cohort Grad Rate Rises Again, Cohort Dropout Rate Falls

For Immediate Release                                                      Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486

Baltimore, MD (January 28, 2014)

Maryland high school students set a new record for high school graduation in 2013, according to newly released statewide data.

The four-year cohort graduation rate reached 84.97 percent for the class of 2013 – students who entered school in the fall of 2009 – compared to 83.57 percent for the class of 2012.  That represents a remarkable 1.4 percentage point increase in the graduation rate in just one year.  At the same time, the cohort dropout rate fell by nearly a full percentage point to 9.36, the lowest on record. 

“Working together, we've made the better choice to invest in our schools because a quality education is a ladder to success," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Today's data shows once again that we're getting results: our high school students are graduating at a higher rate now than ever before, and that success crosses racial and economic lines. More graduates mean a stronger economic future for all Maryland families.”

State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery said graduation sets the cornerstone for a student’s next step. 

“Maryland is focused on preparing our graduates for college and career success.  That cannot take place without a high school diploma,” Dr. Lowery said.  “While we will not be satisfied until all students graduate, we are pleased that these numbers continue to improve.  Our schools and our students are traveling along the right path.”

The trend line for Maryland’s statewide graduation rate has been positive. Under a change in federal rules, high school graduation numbers are calculated in what is commonly called the “cohort rate.”  The four-year adjusted cohort rate is the number of students who graduate with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class.  For any given cohort, students who are entering 9th grade for the first time form a cohort that is later “adjusted” by adding students who transfer in during the succeeding years, and subtracting those who transfer out.

This year’s data shows across-the-board improvement for the class of 2013.  For example, the graduation rate for Hispanic students jumped more than 2.5 percentage points between 2012 and 2013, from 72.51 percent to 75.08 percent.  In addition:

  • African American student graduation jumped from 76.50 percent in 2012 to 78.26 percent.
  • Asian student graduation increased from 93.44 percent to 95 percent.
  • White student graduation improved from 90.49 percent to 91.11 percent.
  • Special education student graduation jumped by more than 2.5 percentage points – from 57.41 percent to 60.03 percent.
  • The rate for students receiving free or reduced-price meals increased by nearly a percentage point, from 74.87 percent to 75.81 percent.

The four-year cohort graduation rate stood at 80.31 for the class of 2009 – the first year the cohort was calculated in Maryland.  Since that time, graduation rates have improved by nearly 5 percentage points.

As the graduation rate has risen, the dropout rate has declined.  It stood at 13.78 percent in 2009 and has dropped more than 4.5 points since that time.  The 9.36 rate for the 2013 cohort marks the first time the rate has fallen below 10 percent. 

The new graduation data will be available today on Maryland’s Report Card website,   A video tutorial on the cohort graduation rate is available at