While the Governor was making the headlines with his same-old, same-old story about the state of the Commonwealth, the PSS released an important report. PSS has been trying to address the drop-out rate at the public high schools.
And PSS has made steady--and significant-- progress for 5 straight years, which then tapered off and seems to be bobbing about now.
Basically, as I understand it, PSS keeps track of how many students start 9th grade and finish 12th grade, graduating from the CNMI public school system.
2008 MHS graduation
The raw numbers do not subtract for students leaving the system to transfer to private schools or to transfer to schools out of the CNMI, when families move away. But basically, even without adjustment, the RATE of completing education to graduate from the 12th grade has been improving.
Using the numbers in the newspaper, here's what the percentage of completion of 12th grade looks like for those who started 9th grade here. (The years refer to graduation dates, I think, not 9th grade dates.)
Whatever PSS did from 2001 through 2005, they were successful in making great strides in the "cohort" graduation rate. And I'm guessing that the fluctuation in improvement rate in the 2006 and 2007 graduating classes may have been due more to the exodus that was occurring as families left the CNMI during the economic downturn. The drop may also have related to the new graduation credit requirements, which increased the number of credits needed for graduation from 21 to 28. But we are still seeing a vast improvement over the low-50's rate at the start of the century!
I hope PSS continues its efforts to keep cohort statistics and to improve the record on students staying in school through graduation. Whatever strategy they're using, it's been working, and our entire community benefits from having students who stay in school and graduate.