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Posted on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

2012 graduation rates a mixed bag: Some Washtenaw County schools improve; others see more dropouts

By Danielle Arndt


The 2012 class of nearly 350 graduating seniors cheer award recipients during the Huron High School graduation ceremony at EMU's Convocation Center in this file photo. Graduation/dropout rates released Wednesday by the state show the county's high schools experienced a mix of improvement and decline in 2012.

Joe Sharp | For

Michigan's statewide graduation rate increased in 2012 and its dropout rate decreased, according to data shared Wednesday by the state's Center for Educational Performance and Information.

But in Washtenaw County, data was not as conclusive. Most districts saw their graduation rates improve from 2011. However, some on the east side of the county declined or stayed the same. And dropout rates at a few of the county's public school districts also worsened.

CEPI reported the statewide four-year, or "on time," graduation rate for the class of 2012 was 76.24 percent, up from 74.33 percent for the class of 2011.

The state dropout rate for 2012 was reported at 10.71 percent, according to the CEPI data released Wednesday. In 2011, Michigan had a dropout rate of 11.13 percent.

The improvement is worth noting in part because of the tougher graduation requirements that went into effect for the class of 2011. Those students were the first required to take more math and science to receive their high school diplomas.

Ann Arbor Public Schools improved its dropout rate from 2011, which was 7.26 percent. But its 2012 rate of 4.16 percent is about equal to the district's class of 2010 dropout rate, 4.17 percent.

Ann Arbor's districtwide graduation rate increased from 83.57 percent in 2011 to 87.44 percent in 2012.

Community High School consistently has the best graduation rate of Ann Arbor Public Schools' secondary buildings. In 2012, 97.35 percent of its seniors graduated, with 1.77 percent dropping out.

Pioneer and Skyline high schools are close behind with graduation/dropout rates of 95.26/1.58 percent and 94.44/1.59 percent, respectively.

This is the first graduation data available for Skyline High School, which opened its doors in 2008 and had its first class of seniors in 2012.

Huron High School had 88.7 percent of its seniors graduate, with 3.19 percent dropping out.

The only Ann Arbor public high school to see its graduation rate drop from 2011 to 2012 was Ann Arbor Technological High School, one of AAPS' two alternative programs. Last year, 16.28 percent of its seniors graduated on time, compared to 21.57 percent of seniors the year before.

However, in 2011, 25.49 percent of its seniors dropped out of high school, compared to 11.63 percent in 2012. A2 Tech retained more of its students last year as "off-track continuing," which means they're still in school but didn't have the credits to graduate in four years. Less than 10 seniors were reported as dropouts in 2012, whereas 13 kids dropped out the year before.

Ann Arbor's second alternative high school program, the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center, saw its graduation rates increase from 75 percent to 88.24 percent, not far behind Huron. Its dropout rate fell from 20 percent to 11.76 percent.

Saline Area Schools has the best dropout rate in Washtenaw County. Less than 1 percent of its students didn't graduate, while 96.43 percent did graduate in 2012.

Willow Run Community Schools had the lowest 2012 graduation rate in the county, 41.43 percent. This is down almost 5 percent from 2011. The district's dropout rate also increased from 20.14 percent to 24.29 percent.

Ypsilanti Public Schools' dropout rate increased slightly from 2011 to 2012 — 15.43 percent to about 17 percent. It also had fewer students listed as off-track continuing for 2012.

About 63 percent of Ypsilanti's seniors graduated last year, compared to 57.45 percent the year before. However, Ypsilanti also had a smaller graduating class in 2012, with approximately 64 fewer students.

In a report to the Board of Education in October, Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Martin explained that Ypsilanti was disputing its 2012 graduation rates as reported by the state. Martin said then that Ypsilanti often graduates students in five years through programs such as Washtenaw International High School (WiHi), Widening Advancement for Youth (WAY), Early College Alliance (ECA), dual enrollment, Forest School and New Tech at Ardis. Some of these programs, WAY and ECA in particular, were not designed to be four-year high-school experiences, Martin said.

Dexter Community Schools' dropout rate also increased, from 3.57 percent in 2011 to 5.63 percent last year. Its graduate rate improved, however, from 89.64 percent to 92.5 percent.

Chelsea School District's graduation rate declined while its dropout rate increased. More than 90 percent of the district's seniors in 2011 graduated, compared to 84.8 percent of seniors in 2012. The dropout rate jumped about 1.2 percent, with 5.2 percent of the class of 2012 not finishing school.

At Lincoln schools, the district's graduation rate stayed about same, at just more than 70 percent. The district improved its dropout rate from 13.55 percent to 8.7 percent.

At Manchester Community Schools, the opposite occurred. The district's dropout rate was consistent, at just greater than 2 percent, while its graduation rate increased, from 87.96 percent to 91.11 percent.

Milan Area Schools saw improvement in both its graduation and dropout rates. Its dropout rate fell from 11.81 percent in 2011 to 6.74 percent in 2012. The district's graduation rate increased from 76.01 percent to 80.15 percent.

Whitmore Lake Public Schools' graduation rate hovered at about 87 percent in both 2011 and 2012. Its dropout rate declined from 6.19 percent to 4 percent.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:38 a.m.

If I was smarter I would have dropped out at 16, Got my Good Enough Diploma (GED), Started Community College, Transferred to an 4+ year university. Had my bachelors Degree before I was 20.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:34 a.m.

Teacher unions doing such a good job, Lets give them another raise. LOL I see the trip to protest the right to work law taught our kids well.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Would be nice to see a demographic on this situation. I'm wondering, since east Washtenaw was mentioned, if this is an African American thing.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

I'm part of that 1 percent of dropouts! and I'm proud


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

I know a few who did drop out, got their GED and went on to college or something else. There is nothing wrong with dropping out. I know I would too if you saw the math involved.

Chester Drawers

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

There is another factor that skews these graduation rates to the low side. Ann Arbor has a somewhat transient school population. When a student leaves the district before graduating, the State requires all kinds of proof positive that they have enrolled in another school. If that proof doesn't exist, the student is counted as a dropout the year his/her class graduates. If that school is in Michigan the kid stays on the State's radar. If the student leaves the state or, even worse, the country, sometimes there is inadequate 'proof' that he/she landed in another school. The district works really hard every year to track down exactly where these kids end up, but a lot of kids just leave with 'no forwarding address.'

Stephen Landes

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Does it ever occur to people who write these stories that a simple table of the data is a lot easier to use to compare schools and comprehend trends? Use text for analysis, tables to present data. After all, this is a e-paper where you can use real graphics and tables. is not constrained to putting everything into paragraph text.

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Stephen, duly noted! I have mixed feelings about charts. Sometimes I personally feel like looking at so many columns of numbers is annoying, but it's nice to hear from someone who likes information presented that way! And here I thought I was simplifying things for people! So thank you for sharing your opinion. I can appreciate it and will think about that next time.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

This is very interesting. University of Michigan says one of the reasons it's seeing an uptick in out-of-state undergraduates is because high school students from Michigan aren't qualifying and aren't graduating. This statewide increase, however, coincides with a record year for non-resident enrollment at U-M. I wonder if a continued increase in Michigan's graduation rate will result in a decrease in the number of non-residents in future freshman classes.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

Spend a day with my child at Pioneer. You will totally understand what it means to be burned out on homework. And the math? What a joke. Whoever told these children to do 4 years was not thinking. I am not surprised on the drop out rate and UM stats.

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Kellie, thanks for sharing this link and tidbit with readers! That is interesting that U-M says students from Michigan aren't graduating. It will be interesting to watch this trend over the next couple years.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:15 a.m.

Why don't you compare the 'free and reduced' lunch numbers to graduation rates. Community gets the pick of the litter, hence the better graduation rates.

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

Hi davecj, I'm actually working on something that does just that. However, the most recent data available from the state on the number of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch at each district/school is from 2011-12. So it's not a year to year comparison, which isn't ideal. But stay tuned!


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

Community does not get"the pick of the litter", it's a lottery. However, the kids who apply there really want to be at that school. Kids who are really interested in being at a certain high school are obviously going to have better graduation rates.

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

They do the best job of screening out the trouble kids and convincing them to go to Huron instead.

Dog Guy

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:39 a.m.

These graduation rates for seniors quietly ignore those students who drop out before beginning a senior year. How much lower are the graduation rates for all students who started a freshmen year four years ago?

Chester Drawers

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Not true. The State tracks kids starting in their freshman year.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

Why is such a difference between Huron Pioneer and Skyline ?


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:45 a.m.

The area around Huron has deteriorated. Use to be mostly upper class area now mostly lower middle class and upper lower class.

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.


Jim Mulchay

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

First - students are unique with unique situations so you cannot (in my opinion) generalize - especially across different school buildings; Second - life is about opportunities - some take advantage, some do not; all we can do is try to give relatively equal opportunities; Third - at the end of the day - life is not always fair;


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

Thank you parents and teachers for reducing the drop out rate and increasing the graduation rates. Michigan needs educated children and children need education to be able to prosper in today's economy.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

59% of the students in the Willow Run District fail to graduate. How much of this is due to the parents lack of participation or responsibility?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

You took the words right out of my mouth. After doing some time in a classroom one year? I was always told by the teacher, if they do not finish? Do not send it home. It will get tossed or better yet? Forgotten. Most times it is the sibs who are doing the babysitting while the parents are working. Pretty sad if you ask me who is minding the store.WR hi school is the worse. I am so glad they are shutting it down and I am also glad to hear WR and Ypsi are merging. Although I am a lot of cons on this one. Going to be a rocky year.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

Over a school life time, probably 100%

5c0++ H4d13y

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

Better increase funding. Just to be on the safe side.