(From Gov. Jay Nixon)
Gov. Jay Nixon today applauded data from the U.S. Department of Education showing that Missouri’s four-year high school graduation rate increased to 87.8 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, up from 87.3 percent in the previous school year. Missouri’s graduation rate is significantly above the national average of 83.2 and ranks in the top 10 in the nation. Since the 2010-2011 school year, Missouri’s graduation rate has risen nearly seven percentage points, from 81 percent to 87.8 percent.
“Missouri’s top 10 in the nation graduation rate is another solid indication that the work we’ve done to support public education is having a positive impact on students and families across our state,” Gov. Nixon said. “Behind these numbers are thousands of students who are graduating from high school and going on to pursue college degrees and rewarding careers. I want to thank all of Missouri’s public school teachers, administrators and board members who work tirelessly each day to build a brighter future for their students.”
Gov. Nixon has made public education in Missouri a top priority of his administration, providing record funding for K-12 classrooms while raising standards and expectations. From 2009 to 2016, the Governor increased funding through the K-12 Foundation Formula by nearly $400 million. With higher funding, Gov. Nixon demanded accountability and measureable results: higher test scores, higher graduation rates and tougher classes. With record funding for elementary and secondary education during Gov. Nixon’s administration, learning standards became more rigorous and math and reading scores improved.
Missouri’s 2016 Annual Performance Report from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education showed none of the state’s 517 school districts received scores in the unaccredited range, even though the learning standards have become more rigorous and comprehensive.
The Governor also worked to expand the number of schools implementing Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) which provides proven interventions to help young people who have potential but, for a variety for reasons, are at-risk to not graduate from high school. JAG helps these students stay in school, graduate, and then succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce. By leveraging public and private funding sources, Gov. Nixon has worked successfully to triple the number of schools offering JAG to 19 in the current school year.
A fierce defender of the principle that public funds belong in public schools, Gov. Nixon successfully blocked private school voucher schemes that would have drained funding from local public school districts. The Governor also demonstrated his commitment to public education by assembling a coalition of teachers, administrators, board members and parents to successfully sustain his vetoes of unaffordable tax breaks, including House Bill 253 and the “Friday Favors,” that would have hurt public education without helping everyday Missouri families.