NASHVILLE—Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced that the 2017-18 high school graduation rate held steady at 89.1 percent, which is the highest graduation rate on record for Tennessee. This year, more than 50 percent of Upper Cumberland districts with high schools saw their graduation rates improve when compared to last year’s rates.
“Our schools and districts should be proud that once again we have hit our state’s highest graduation rate on record while still holding our students to high expectations,” Commissioner McQueen said. “By continuing to raise the expectations, we are signaling that Tennessee students are leaving high school with the knowledge and skills to be successful in college and the workforce. This graduation rate is a testament to the work being done by teachers and students in schools across the state.”
Under the Haslam administration, Tennessee has set high expectations for both students and educators, and students have made significant gains as a result. As part of this work, the state transitioned to a more rigorous calculation for graduation rates in 2011, and even under the new criteria, rates have continued to rise.
Additionally, the state raised the bar for graduation expectations when the State Board of Education included participation in the ACT or SAT as a graduation requirement for Tennessee students. This year’s results are the first to reflect this change in accountability.
For the 2017-18 school year, the most notable gains and overall achievements in the Upper Cumberland are:
- 3 districts improved their graduation rates by 5 percentage points or more. The districts with the most significant gains were Van Buren County (8.4 percentage points), Overton County (6.2 percentage points), and Jackson County (5.5 percentage points).
- 5 districts—over one-third of the districts in the Upper Cumberland with high schools—have graduation rates at or above 95 percent, up from last year. This matched the state percentage over 95 percent.
- 12 districts—over 85 percent of the districts in the state—have graduation rates at or above 90 percent, up from 10 districts last year. Fentress and Van Buren counties both had graduation rates at or above 98 percent.