Montana has been so fortunate to have Denise Juneau leading our schools for the past seven years. During her tenure, we’ve abandoned unnecessary testing of our students, developed a critical college admission program through universal ACT testing for juniors, and managed to improve results across the board. The latest good news? Montana schools have reached a historic level for graduation students, with the latest report showing that 86% of Montana students graduate from high school on time.
In 2008, Montana had a graduation rate of 80.7 per cent. Each year since, we have seen steady improvement, meaning thousands of additional students are getting prepared for stronger economic futures. These results didn’t happen by chance. Juneau has made increasing graduation rates a focus of her office during her tenure—and the program is paying off.
Getting a diploma is so important for our students. The median earning of full-time workers between the ages of 25-34 in the United States is just over $20,000 for people without a high school diploma. Getting a diploma increases that income by over $7,000 annually. Even more significantly, the diploma opens the door for career and college opportunities that can dramatically increase lifetime earnings and experiences.
From policy to promotion, Superintendent Juneau has led the charge to convince students that they can and should graduate, and given schools the tools to make that belief come true. While there is more work to be done, the trendlines show her effort to make Graduation Matter has mattered to Montana students. One of the most exciting parts of the report is the news that the number of American Indian students dropping out has declined by one-third since 2009.
In a few months, Montanans are going to get the chance to choose their next representative in Congress, and given the choice between the results-oriented Juneau and the self-promoting Ryan Zinke, the choice should be clear. I’m sure you’ll read more about that here. 🙂