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New Numbers Show Baltimore's Graduation Rate Making Gains

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- It's been a steady climb for Baltimore's graduation rate. New numbers released from the state show city schools are making gains in those areas. But the district's new CEO says there's still much more work to be done.

Gigi Barnett explains his plan.

The push to improve Baltimore City schools graduation rate has been an uphill battle. The district is encouraged by new numbers released from the state, showing a steady four year uptick.

City school CEO Gregory Thornton says it's good, but he wants more.

"We're doing OK. But again... OK is not enough. I've got to speed it up," said Thornton.

As the graduation rate goes up, the report also shows that the city's dropout rate is down by 54 percent since 2010. It's another kudos for city schools.

But Thornton says his biggest challenge is keeping that number low by focusing on students most prone to dropping out. Many of them are homeless.

Other students say school is tough without those challenges.

"They say it takes us three hours to do our homework. If you don't have a home, where are you going to do your homework at?" said Aniya Darby, Baltimore Polytechnic student.

"Some of our kids change their homes as much as five to seven times a year and some of them change within the school year," said Thornton. "And now knowing whether you're going to have a home to go to really has devastating effects on your outcome."

Maryland boasts an eight percent dropout rate. Baltimore City's seems locked at about 13 percent. Thornton says he's renewed an open invitation to take students back no matter how long it takes for them to graduate.

"Even if they took the sixth year if they needed to, it's finishing the course," he said.

The district is also focusing on students with special needs and English learners to boost the graduation rate by making sure they don't drop out.

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