Superintendent Juneau Announces Record-Breaking Graduation Rate

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau announced Wednesday that more Montana high school students are graduating than ever before, setting those students up for success as they take their next steps in life and adding tangible benefits to Montana’s economy.

Montana’s 2015 Graduation and Dropout Report finds the state’s graduation rate has increased to 86 percent, breaking the previous record of 85.4 percent. Montana’s dropout rate has been cut by more than a third since 2009.

“I’m proud to say the community-building work of Graduation Matters Montana is making a difference,” Juneau said. “Now, 53 Montana communities place an emphasis on the importance of graduating from high school and it’s clear that students across this state understand that a diploma is their key to a successful future.”

Montana's Graduation Rate 2009-2015Over the last seven years, Montana’s dropout rate has declined from 5 percent to 3.4 percent, resulting in 851 fewer dropouts in 2015 compared to 2009.

Data show high school seniors are far more likely to drop out of school than freshmen. Males are more likely to drop out than females. It’s also true that low-income and American Indian students are more likely to drop out.

“The number of American Indian students dropping out of school is still too high, but we have made great strides in decreasing that number,” Juneau said. “The number of American Indian students dropping out of high school has declined by nearly a third since 2008. We are on the right path to continue that progress.”

American Indian dropout trend.According analysis by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Montana is likely to see significant economic gains as a result of more students graduating from high school. The Alliance estimates Montana will see a $6 million annual boost to the state’s economy because 540 more students graduated in 2015 than in 2009. Those graduates will contribute an additional $10.3 million in spending on homes, and a $700,000 increase in car sales.

“I often tell people the most important piece of paper I ever received was my Browning High School diploma,” Juneau said, “because when Montana students succeed, each and every one of us benefits.”

2015 Graduation and Dropout Report Quick Facts

  • Montana’s 2015 graduation rate was 86 percent, the highest it’s ever been since the Office of Public Instruction began calculating the rate in 2000.
  • Montana’s 2015 dropout rate was 3.4 percent, declining more than one-third since 2009.
  • The share of American Indian students dropping out of high school has declined by nearly one-third since 2009.
  • More than 11,000 Montana students have taken the pledge to graduate from high school.
  • 53 Montana communities are part of Graduation Matters Montana.
  • Private businesses and foundations have donated more than $1.3 million to the Graduation Matters Montana effort since it launched in 2010.

Learn more about Graduation Matters Montana, here.

Download a copy of the 2015 Graduation and Dropout Report, here.

Download an audio clip from Superintendent Juneau, here.