High school graduation rates in Wyoming dropped for the fourth year in a row, according to data released Monday by the Wyoming Department of Education.
About 78 percent of Wyoming high school students graduated on time during the 2012 - 2013 school year, down from more than 80 percent four years ago.
In the same period, Laramie 1 school district in Cheyenne, the largest district in the state, saw its graduation rate fall from near 77 percent to below 72 percent.
Dr. Mark Stock is Superintendent in Laramie 1. He says the decline statewide is concerning, but that part of the reason for the decline is because school has become more challenging.
“People have to realize that all across Wyoming, the standards—from the old Wyoming standards—have been dramatically increased," Stock said. "The estimates we’ve seen [in Laramie 1] are that the average grade level has increased in difficulty by about a year and a half.”
Stock also cautioned that these numbers fail to tell the full story.
“The inverse of the graduation rate is not the dropout rate," he said, echoing concerns voiced by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill--that the rates fail to account for students who graduate in more than four years, but don't drop out.
In a public statement accompanying the release of the WDE data, Hill emphasized that nearly 83 percent of Wyoming's students finished high school within six years.