WXXI AM News

Report : High School Graduation Rate Directly Affects Economy

Dec 15, 2015

Credit The Alliance for Excellent Education

The educational success of students in your region has a direct impact on your wallet.  That's the message from the national policy and advocacy group The Alliance for Excellent Education.

Their report says there would be 150 more jobs and millions of dollars in additional earnings, state and local tax revenue, and auto and home sales if 90 percent of high school students in the 6-county Rochester area graduated in 2013.

"What we want people to understand is - that high school 10 or 15 miles away - you may not have a child there; you may never drive by, but it has a direct economic impact on your life, because that student coming out, or not coming out, is going to determine what our economy looks like," said former West Virginia governor Bob Wise, president of the AEE.

Jennifer Leonard, president of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, says as local leaders work to reduce poverty they can't forget to emphasize educational outcomes.

"Now, we're reminded that we have to invest in education as we invest in workforce development and the economy. They go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other."

In 2013, 48 percent of students graduated by August in the Rochester City School District according to data from ACT Rochester.

For schools in the six-county Rochester metropolitan area, the overall graduation rate that year was 84 percent.

Numerous programs are in place to try to improve graduation rates in the Rochester City School District.  Jennifer Leonard says the Community Foundation’s ROC the Future initiative provides screening of 3-year olds for social/emotional, hearing and vision problems which can be addressed before they start pre-kindergarten.

There is also a city program to prevent the “summer slide”, or learning loss, between pre-K and kindergarten.

Leonard encourages community members who know they have a stake in students’ educational outcomes to volunteer their time.

"It can include helping with the "FAFSA Fest" coming up in February and March in helping students and families fill out the federal aid forms that will make it more likely that students will go on to college. Those are students who will graduate."

The national high school graduation rate is at an all-time high (81 percent in 2013), but one in five students still fails to earn a diploma within four years.