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DPS Announces Record Increases in Graduation Rate

Jan. 14, 2019
High school students stand smiling, looking right (off camera) as they are recognized for outstanding leadership
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Amid cheers and applause during a celebration at Denver South High School, Denver Public Schools announced that more students are graduating on-time than at any other time in the district’s history.

According to the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) release of 2018 graduation and dropout rates for Colorado school districts, DPS saw improvements in the four-year on-time graduation rates among all student groups by race and ethnicity.

“Today, we’re able to share that, district-wide, our on-time graduation rate has reached an all-time high,” said DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova, speaking at a celebratory event at South High School. “Our four-year, on-time graduation rate increased to 70.2% in 2017-18 — more than a 3.5% percent increase from the previous year.”

Compared with the previous year, the on-time graduation rate for African-American students increased by 1%. For Latino students, it increased by 4.3%. Closing the opportunity gap for students of color is one of the district’s top five goals under its strategic plan, the Denver Plan 2020, along with preparing students to be college and career ready.

“When we celebrate a graduation rate increase, not only are we recognizing students who reach the milestone of earning a DPS diploma, but young adults who are truly prepared for what’s next in their college and career journeys,” said Suzanne Morris-Sherer, instructional superintendent in DPS. “We’re seeing these increases thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of our fantastic counseling team and teachers. These people are helping students figure out what their passions are, explore career opportunities in areas that interest them, and, ultimately, pursue meaningful careers.”

The dropout rate decreased slightly this year to 4.1%, the equivalent of 17 fewer dropouts. Additionally, the district saw an uptick in the six- and seven-year graduation rates, indicating that more students are staying enrolled and persisting through high school.

“I truly believe one of our most impactful strategies for increasing graduation rates has been, and continues to be, helping students visualize their own career and college path, each of equal dignity, and setting them up with the supports they need in order to be successful,” said Dr. Samantha Haviland, DPS Director of Counseling Services.