Wisconsin high school graduation rates are second highest in the nation

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education is using a different system to calculate graduation rates, which at first makes it seem as Wisconsin dropped a few points, but in reality it is still well above the national average.

The new system simply divides the number of the student body by the number of students graduating. That system puts Wisconsin’s graduation rate at 87 percent, which might seem low at first, but that only includes graduates who have attended and completed high school in 4 years.

"Right now if you look at our old rates, it's an apples to oranges comparison because it's looking at different time periods, so they are just simply trying to standardize the time period that you are looking at,” said the Director of Assessment and Technology Jim Schmitt.

The Eau Claire School District falls right in with the state average. And the number is even higher at 93 percent graduation rate, when looking at the overall rate, including students who took more than 4 years to complete high school.

"We should feel really good about where we send our students to school, and we are continuing to improve those numbers,” said Schmitt.

Superintendent of the Altoona School District, Connie Biedron, says she's not a bit surprised by where Wisconsin stands nationally.

"It doesn't surprise me. Wisconsin has high numbers in the test scores, in the ACT scores. Our education system is one of the best and we are always trying to improve,” said Biedron.

Schmitt also says the numbers are more than pleasing, but the district will continue to strive for more.

"We are not satisfied with being the second highest in the nation, because you have students that didn't succeed in that model, we want to change that for those students as well,” said Schmitt.

The new system will also look at the graduation rates of students finishing after five and six years of high school, that will help the state and the districts to get the big picture and help students prepare for post-secondary success.

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