In the 2016 graduating class, 8 out of 10 King County public high school students graduated on time.  

To calculate on-time graduation, the same cohort of students is tracked throughout high school. Those who graduate with their class 4 years after beginning 9th grade are counted as graduating “on time.” To graduate in 2011-12, students had to pass high school proficiency exams in reading and writing; by 2015, requirements for passing math and science end-of-course exams had been added. 

In King County overall, 80% of students in the Class of 2016 graduated “on time” (with the same cohort of students with which they started high school).The following disparities, however, were striking.

School district:

  • More than 90% of students graduated on time in 8 King County school districts; all but one (Bellevue) East Region districts (excluding Skykomish) were in this group.
  • On-time graduation rates were especially low for Renton and Highline districts (<75%).

Race/ethnicity and Gender:

  • On-time graduation rates for Blacks, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives were all at or below 70%, trailing the rates for Asians (88%) and whites (85%) by at least 17%. 
  • 78% of males graduated on time, compared to 83% of females.

English proficiency, special education, and low-income:

  • 56% students with limited English proficiency graduated on time.
  • 59% of Special Education students graduated on time.
  • 68% of low-income students graduated on time.
  • 52% of homeless students graduated on time in 2015, up from 36% in 2013.

A perfect storm? Especially difficult educational challenges are concentrated in a few school districts.  

  • The school districts with the lowest on-time graduation rates in 2016 also served student populations in which more than 1 in 5 students had limited proficiency in English.
  • These same districts had high proportions of low-income students.
  • Serving the most diverse language communities in the state, King County school districts face extraordinary challenges in trying to help all students earn a high school diploma.
  • Failing to meet the educational needs of students growing up in poverty, or in homes where English is not the primary language, will profoundly narrow the prospects of thousands of King County children.