NEWS RELEASES 2012-13 :: AUGUST 2, 2012


For the first time ever, North Carolina's four-year cohort graduation rate exceeded 80 percent, according to North Carolina's 2012 graduation rate report, presented to State Board of Education members today. In 2012, 80.2 percent of students who started ninth grade in 2008-09 completed high school in four years or less. This is up from the 2011 rate of 77.9 percent.

Some students require a fifth year of high school in order to complete graduation requirements. The five-year cohort graduation rate for students who entered ninth grade in 2007-08 (Class of 2011) also was presented today and showed a five-year graduation rate of 81.1 percent, up from the five-year rate for the 2006-07 ninth graders (Class of 2010) of 77.7 percent.

"We are pleased with the progress our students are making, but we need to make sure every kid – no matter where he or she lives in North Carolina – has what it takes to succeed in a career, in a two- or four-year college or in technical training," said Gov. Bev Perdue.

"This is tremendous news for North Carolina public schools and a testament to the hard work of principals, teachers, counselors and students," State Superintendent June Atkinson said. "While I'm thrilled that our graduation rate is the highest ever, we will not rest until every student graduates career and college ready."

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison also commended the dedication of administrators and teachers to ensuring students' success in school. "This is more solid proof that our public schools are definitely headed in the right direction. We still have a lot of work ahead of us but the path we're on is the right one for North Carolina."

Since the fall of 2002, local school districts have been tracking each ninth grader as he or she moves through high school. This record keeping provides the state with an accurate count of four- and five-year graduation rates. Today's report provided four- and five-year cohort graduation rates for each of the state's regular and charter public high schools, for each of the 115 school districts and for the state overall.

Four- and five-year cohort rates by gender and race are as follows:

All Students 80.2 81.1
Male 76.3 77.8
Female 84.3 84.6
American Indian 73.7 72.1
Asian 86.6 90.3
Black 74.6 76.4
Hispanic 72.8 74.1
Two or More Races 80.1 80.4
White 84.4 84.6
Economically Disadvantaged 74.6 76.3
Limited English Proficient 49.7 56.7
Students With Disabilities 59.8 64.1

The rules for calculating graduation rates meet federal requirements and the National Governor's Association's definition. In North Carolina, students who leave high school for a community college GED or adult high school program are counted as dropouts under state policy. In addition, school officials only identify a student as a transfer to another high school when the receiving school requests the student's records. If the transfer is not confirmed, the student is counted as a dropout.

North Carolina has a number of efforts underway to help strengthen the high school experience and ensure its relevancy for all students. These efforts include the Early College High School initiative, which provides students with the opportunity to pursue a rigorous five-year high school curriculum in which they can earn both a high school diploma and an associate's degree or two years of college credit. The North Carolina New Schools Project helps foster high schools that are designed to be more focused and rigorous in smaller learning communities for students and teachers.

In addition to its intensive assistance to low-performing schools, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is developing software that will allow schools to identify students most at risk so that educators can effectively address the academic needs of those students in a more focused way. Students also are encouraged to explore career technical education courses. Eighty percent of students who are career technical education completers say that the availability of these courses was one of the main reasons they stayed in school. Local districts also employ ninth grade academies, career counseling and course credit recovery programs as measures to keep students in school through graduation.

Since 2006, the first year the state reported a four-year cohort graduation rate, the percentage of students graduating from high school in four years or less has risen 11.9 percentage points -- from 68.3 percent to 80.2 percent. The full report on the state's cohort graduation rate, as well as previous years' reports, is available online at

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.