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State, School District report increased graduation rates

By Tabitha Mueller
Published: Last Updated on


The Washoe County School District (WCSD) awarded more than 4,000 diplomas to high school students in 2019, setting a record graduation rate of 86 percent. The increased graduation rate follows a statewide trend as Nevada set a record for the second year in a row, with an 84% graduation rate across all districts.

WCSD also reported increased graduation rates for homeless students, students in the free and reduced lunch program, and students receiving English Language (EL) support, along with 11 other groups with special needs.

Kristen McNeill, interim superintendent, Washoe County School District.
Kristen McNeill, interim superintendent, Washoe County School District.

WCSD Interim Superintendent Kristen McNeill said: “The graduation rate rose five percentage points for our students who are receiving special education support with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), while most ethnic/racial groups of students continued to show growth this year. I commend the great work of our staff members and their partnerships with families in our District that have helped make these gains possible for our students.”

Ben Hayes, WCSD’s chief accountability officer, said students are “achieving at even higher levels,” and expectations for those pursuing a diploma are high.

“The requirements for graduation are rigorous, and we have worked hard to ensure our graduates are ready for college, a highly-skilled career, or the military,” he explained. “These are amazing accomplishments for our educators and students, and we congratulate our schools on their hard work.”

At a statewide level, graduation rates in 2019 for students of all races/ethnicities were higher than in the past. The state also reported higher graduation rates for students with disabilities and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Although the WCSD reported an increase in students who received EL support graduating, the statewide rate for EL learners decreased since 2017 but did increase over the last year.

Jhone Ebert, state superintendent, said the state would continue addressing achievement gaps for students from marginalized or disadvantaged backgrounds.

State Superintendent Jhone Ebert.
State Superintendent Jhone Ebert.

“We are proud that all of our students are demonstrating progress, but we are committed to addressing achievement gaps for student groups…” Ebert said. “Expanding access to educational opportunities and ensuring equitable access to effective educators will be key to our efforts to provide every student who graduates with the tools they need to build a home, a life, and a future.”

Nevada’s three largest districts, including WCSD, showed increased graduation rates, and 10 of Nevada’s 17 school districts have graduation rates that exceed the state average graduation rate.

“The rising graduation rate coincides with other positive trends reported this year, including 184 schools that increased their rating by one or more stars and assessment outcomes that indicate that more of our students are demonstrating proficiency and college and career readiness,” Ebert said.

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