Ask a high school graduate if graduation matters


  • August 31, 2015
  • /   Reggie Dogan
  • /   education

The number of college graduates in a community can boost its economic bottom line.

High school graduation matters.

Since 2002, schools in every state have been under enormous pressure from the federal government to increase their graduation rates.

Researchers talk about the ABC’s: attendance, behavior and course performance, which can reliably predict high school graduation as early as third grade. That’s why you will find the high school graduation rate among 16 key metrics in the Studer Community Institute’s Pensacola Metro Dashboard.

On Tuesday, we’ll look at the how the area’s graduation rates stack up against state and national numbers.

To be sure, high school graduation is an important measure of the success of a community’s education system and the quality of its workforce.

It’s especially good news that the graduation rate nationwide is at an all-time high, but too many students still struggle to make the grade.

At 66.1 percent, Escambia County’s graduation rate is up nearly 10 percentage points from 2009.

But the county continues to lag behind Santa Rosa (82.8 percent), the state (76 percent) and the country (81 percent).

“What gets measures gets improved” has become our maxim for improving this community’s quality of life.

Objective, quantifiable benchmarks are important measurements to gauging progress and identifying areas that need improvement.

The Institute believes education has to be our this community’s No. 1 priority if we have any real hope of improving the quality of life for everyone.

High school graduation is a highly touted measurement because it typically leads to higher pay and places with a more-educated populace have greater productivity and economic growth.

There is overwhelming evidence that finishing high school provides an additional boost to earnings above and beyond the earnings of those with the same number of years of school but didn’t earn a diploma.

It is no coincidence that a high school graduate has a greater chance of success in life than a student who fails to finish high school.

Research shows young people who graduate from high school earn almost $150 more per week than those who never finish high school.

The reality is, if we can’t find answers to address the graduation rate dilemma, it will, in the long run, result in not only increased unemployment, but a dwindling talent pool for companies looking to relocate in our community to offer livable wages and a stronger economy.

Continued low graduation rates also will decrease social mobility, contributing to the rising wealth gap.

As area schools are moving forward into a new year full of hope and promise, we should keep in mind that graduation is not an end, but instead the best beginning we can give our young people.

In today’s complex, technological driven age, a high school diploma is a bare minimum credential necessary to have a fighting chance of success in the workforce and the best hope in improving the quality of life.

If you don’t believe that’s true, ask high school graduates, from any year and they will confirm, “graduation matters.”