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Utah's High School Graduation Rate Keeps Climbing


Utah High School graduation rates continue to rise. Last spring, 84 percent of Utah high school students earned a diploma. That’s up one percent from 2014.

Achievement gaps persist, but graduation rates improved for all demographic subgroups in 2015, except for students with disabilities. The latest data from the Utah State Office of Education shows that group saw a one percent drop. English Language learners have made the biggest gains over the past few years. They’re up from 45 percent in 2011 to 65 percent in 2015. Ann White is director of federal programs for the state. She says E-L-L students used to be pulled out of the classroom to receive additional help, but that’s changing.     

“So I think the focus now is to ensure that they receive that primary or Tier 1 instruction that every student receives,” White says. “And they receive the additional supports on top of Tier 1 instruction, not instead of.”

White is says in some Utah schools as many as 50 languages are spoken.  

“Not only are the students coming with languages that are very different, but their cultures are also different than many teachers have encountered,” White says. “So more attention is paid now to cultural needs.”

White says she’s happy about the gains, but there is still work to be done.

Graduation rates have increased 15 percent overall since 2008.  

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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