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Despite Higher Graduation Rates, Lack Of Diversity Continues To Affect Black Student Success
12/16/2015 5:43:11 PM

Staff Reports

Charleston County School District recently announced drastically improved 2014-2015 high school graduation rates at county high schools. Though graduation rates improved, racial diversity at the county’s best high schools remains at disparaging levels.

Ultimately, the net result is Black students remain the district’s most disadvantaged.

County school officials last month released information the overall graduation rate in 2014-2015 increased to about 83 percent. The largest single year increase was among Black students that rose from about 72 percent to about 78 percent.

Previously, according to the state’s 2013 annual school report card the graduation rate at R.B. Stall High was at 60 percent. That’s also was true at predominantly Black Baptist Hill High where the rate was at 60 percent. And at predominantly Black North Charleston High the rate was a dismal 47 percent. According to school district officials the graduation rate at North Charleston High for 2014-2015 increased about 12 percentage points.

Contrastingly at predominantly white high schools in 2013 the rates were markedly higher. At the Academic Magnet High the rate was 100 percent, at Charleston County School of the Arts the rate was 98 percent, at James Island Charter High the rate was 90 percent and at Wando High the rate was 85 percent.

Between 2007 and 2013 the rate of graduation for CCSD students overall have increased from 61 percent to about 80 percent. During the same time the overall rate of graduation for African American students in the district has increased from 60 percent to 72 percent.

Though graduation rate increases for Black students seem impressive, racial diversity at the district’s best schools continue to relegate Black students to inferior opportunities.

And for some, such as public schools advocate Jon Butzon, we need to look beyond graduation rates. He cited that last year only some 22 percent of graduates were fully ready for college or careers. What good is a diploma if it means nothing, he asked.

At two of the county’s best performing high schools the Academic Magnet High School and Charleston County School of the Arts where fewer than 200 of its approximately 1,100 students are Black, lack of diversity translates to fewer opportunities for academic success. Although CCSD’s population is about 42 percent Black compared to 46 percent white, the bulk of white students attend high performing or specialty schools such as magnet and charter schools.

Charleston County School Board member Michael Miller said Monday because equality doesn’t always result in equity, the outcome for Black students regardless of the measures being used has not been favorable.

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