Wisconsin second in the nation with high school grad rates

Wisconsin has a history of ranking high among states for high school graduation rates.

Now, with a new measuring system being used for the first time, Wisconsin still ranks near the top, tying for the second spot in the nation.

The U.S. Department of Education is measuring states' graduation rates in a new and uniform way.

Before this year, the rates were measured differently in each state, which made it difficult to compare them accurately.

But now, a new method tracks students the same way in every state.

"The former way was it was tallied.  It was a legacy. It wasn't just a four year 9-to-12 grade model. The new method under No Child Left Behind is intended to be a little bit more accurate and takes a look from ninth grade to the summer of their 12th grade year to take that comparison, so it's really an apples-to-apples comparison," said Troy Harcey, associate superintendent of instruction in the La Crosse School District.

Under the new measurement, Wisconsin comes in second in the nation with an 87 percent graduation rate.


The La Crosse School District comes in even higher, with about a 94 percent graduation rate.

Which raises the question, "Why are we doing so well?"

"There is such a collaborative effort with the community, with the schools and with people in the schools. Everybody is really focused on how important it is to make sure these kids are provided with the best education," said Dr. Deborah Markos, associate principal of Logan High School.

"Here at Central High School and at other schools, there are transition programs for freshman to welcome them into high school. Then once they start school, we have monitoring systems set up to make sure we have as many students as possible to be credit-current and to make sure they're on track to graduate," said Jeff Fleig, principal of Central High School.

"We're a 360-degree service for students with all the supports we have -- that includes things we have that are outside of the school building," said Harcey.

But even though Wisconsin is near the top in the nation, all educators agree, there's still plenty of work to be done.

"There's always room for improvement. Until we have 100 percent of our kids proficient or advanced or 100 percent of our kids graduating, we just can't stop improving," said Fleig.

"We don't want to say good is good enough, because it never is, and we want to be challenging Iowa for number one in the future," said Harcey.

Iowa took the top spot with an 88 percent graduation rate.

Wisconsin tied for second with Vermont, and Minnesota tied with three other states for 10th place.

The U.S. Department of Education said Nevada came in with the lowest graduation rate at 62 percent.       

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