Graduation Rate Increase for Class of 2016 at DMPS

Comprehensive High Schools See New High in Grad Rate

Group of students in red caps and gowns

The four-year graduation rate at the district’s five comprehensive high schools (East, Hoover, Lincoln, North and Roosevelt) for the Class of 2016 was 87.67%, the highest since the state’s current graduation rate formula went in effect in 2009.

The Iowa Department of Education today released data on the four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2016 and the five-year graduation rate for the Class of 2015. The results show the second highest graduation rate for DMPS since Iowa began using its current graduation rate formula in 2009, and the highest rate ever for the district’s five comprehensive high schools.

The Class of 2016 at DMPS had a district-wide graduation rate of 81.16%, an increase of 2.84% over the previous year. The four-year graduation rate at the district’s five comprehensive high schools (East, Hoover, Lincoln, North and Roosevelt) alone was 87.67%, the highest under the state’s current graduation rate formula. All five high schools each saw an increase in their graduation rate from 2015 to 2016.

Statewide figures show an overall increase in the percentage of Iowa high school students who completed high school in four years, with a statewide graduation rate of 91.3% for 2016 compared to 90.8% for 2015.

The five-year graduation rate was also released today. The district-wide five-year graduation rate for Des Moines Public Schools was 83.94% for the Class of 2015, down from 85.27% for the Class of 2014.

Statewide figures show an overall increase in the percentage of Iowa high school students who completed high school in five years, with a five-year rate of 93.3% for the Class of 2015 compared to 93.1% percent for the Class of 2014.

The following chart shows the graduation rate trend at DMPS over the past eight years:


Graduationratechart09 16

This is the eighth year that Iowa graduation rates have been calculated using a formula established by the U.S. Department of Education. Unique student identification numbers are assigned to ninth-grade students, allowing school districts to account for all students as they move through high school. At the state level, the method helps determine when a student graduates, even if the student has moved to a different district in Iowa during high school.

The graduation rate for Des Moines Public Schools has increased nearly 9 percentage points since the State of Iowa first started using this formula for the Class of 2009.

“These numbers underscore the steady gains and improvements being made at our schools, and are a compliment to our students and everyone who supports their education,” said Superintendent Tom Ahart. “The challenge today, of course, is whether these gains and improvements will continue to be supported given that many political leaders are turning their back to the needs of public schools, the educational provider of choice for nearly 94% of Iowa’s students.”

The data released today showed a slight increase in the dropout rate for DMPS, which was 4.57% for the 2015-16 school year compared to 4.16% in 2014-15.

DMPS has begun several initiatives in recent years that have contributed to raising the graduation rate, including:

  • In the fall of 2009, DMPS implemented the Early Indicator System (EIS) to help identify students who may be at risk of dropping out of school. The EIS tracks attendance, class performance, and discipline/behavior issues at the elementary and secondary levels. In addition, each high school now has an Academic Support Lab to help serve students who are identified through the EIS as at-risk for dropping out of school.
  • Also in 2009, DMPS began the Graduation Walk, a grassroots effort done in partnership with United Way of Central Iowa to raise community awareness about the importance of completing a high school diploma as well as to reach out to recent dropouts and students falling behind to make them aware of available support. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, the program has knocked on thousands of doors over the past eight years and was presented with the 2015 Magna Award by the National School Boards Association.
  • Over the past few years DMPS has greatly expanded access to Advanced Placement courses, with new AP courses at Central Academy and a more complete AP curriculum offered at all five high schools. During that time AP enrollment has quadrupled and participation in AP exams has doubled, raising expectations for academic success throughout all high schools.
  • Senior Summer School was developed as a 9-week intensive credit recovery program targeting 12th graders who do not graduate by the end of the regular school year due to credit deficiencies. Programming consists of both academic and social support for students, with the goal of increasing the number of students who meet credit requirements for graduation by the end of the program. A graduation ceremony for students who successfully complete the program is held in August.
  • DMPS has significantly increased afterschool programming and extracurricular activities at all middle schools, and is beginning similar efforts at the elementary school level, in order to help students become more connected and engaged with their schools.
  • For the past four years DMPS has worked with the Gallup Organization, utilizing the Gallup Student Poll which provides data on our students’ levels of hope, well-being and engagement and helping the district develop more purposeful and student-focused school improvement plans.