Waterbury's Graduation Rate Increases

April 11, 2017

State officials on Monday touted Connecticut’s four-year high school graduation rate as having “reached an all-time high.”

Of the students who entered high school in the fall of 2012, 87.4 percent of them managed to graduate four years later in 2016. That figure is 0.2 points higher than the 2015 figure of 87.2 percent, and 4.7 percentage points higher than 2011’s graduation rate of 82.7 percent.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell announced the latest rate during a press conference at New Haven’s Hillhouse High School. Hillhouse, according to a news release, had seen its graduation percentage increase by the second-largest rate of any high school in Connecticut over the past five years. In 2012, only 54.9 percent of Hillhouse students graduated within four years. In 2016, 80.4 percent of students accomplished the feat.

The national average, according to the news release, was 83.2 percent.

In Waterbury, school officials touted progress as well. In 2016, 73.3 percent of students who entered high school in the fall of 2012 graduated. That figure represents an increase over the prior year’s rate of 69.2 percent, and a 17.1 percent improvement over 2012’s graduation rate.

Individual schools also showed increases: Wilby High School saw 78.1 percent of students graduate in four years, while Kennedy had a graduation rate of 75.2 percent; and Crosby 74.1 percent. The Waterbury Arts Magnet School’s graduation rate held steady at 93.9 percent. For Crosby, which in 2012 had a graduation rate of 60.2 percent and Wilby, 63.1 percent that same year, the increases were the most dramatic.

“Obviously we have a ways to go to improve it, but we’re outpacing the state in terms of growth,” said Darren Schwartz, chief academic officer for the Waterbury public schools. “We’re closing the gap between our students and the rest of the state.”

Paul Whyte, the district’s instructional leadership director who oversees the high schools, credited the improvements in part to programs that target early intervention for high school freshmen and that help them understand the requirements to graduate.

“We’re working on ways to make sure students understand what credits are and how that plays into their growth,” Whyte said.

In Winsted, Gilbert School saw a year-to-year drop in its four-year rate, from 90 percent in 2015, to 84.2 percent in 2016. Watertown saw a year-to-year increase from 88.3 percent to 96 percent. Other school districts held steady within a few percentage points. Among them, Naugatuck’s four-year rate was 85.2