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GRPS graduation rate tops state average for first time

District’s 2023 rate was its highest in ‘recent history’

Grand Rapids — Grand Rapids Public Schools’ 2023 graduation rates were the district’s highest in recent history, and also topped the state average for the first time ever. 

In a recent statement, GRPS announced that its graduation rate for the 2022-23 school year rocketed past 82%, and Superintendent Leadriane Roby elaborated on the data during a Feb. 26 press conference.

GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby (courtesy)

“Today we celebrate the highest Grand Rapids Public Schools graduation record in recent history, and we celebrate topping the state average … for the very first time,” Roby said. “The GRPS graduation rate was 82.39% for this past school year, above the state average, which was 81.77%. 

“That means more of our scholars are staying the course (and) taking value in their education. More of our young people are motivated to work, and our dedicated teachers are doing the work in the classrooms, and more of our students are leaving high school ready to launch toward a successful future.”

The rates mark the continuation of a steady increase over the course of the last decade. Major gains were seen in comparison to 2014, when the district’s graduation rate was 49%. 

Roby thanked GRPS team members for their contributions to the district’s success, including teachers, counselors, custodians, transportation workers, family members and the students themselves.

Aiming for 100%

Despite the recent gains, Roby said the district’s work is not done.

“We are so excited about our scholars and we’re thrilled with what this means for their future, but we’re not satisfied,” she said. “We won’t be satisfied until we reach 100%.”

Roby said the plan is to “keep this momentum going,” with a focus on enrollment and core curriculum like math and literacy. She said the district also aims to have a “hyperfocus” on attendance, as it correlates with graduation rates.

‘… more of our students are leaving high school ready to launch toward a successful future.’

— Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Leadriane Roby

Roby stressed the importance of making sure the district — which is the largest in the West Michigan region — has “rigorous, relevant education,” with as many opportunities as possible for students.

Though there’s still work ahead to close the gap and hit 100%, Roby said the 2023 results mark a major victory for GRPS students and educators.

“This is what each of us are here for and why we entered this wonderful field of education,” she said.

For the past three years, GRPS has lowered its graduation requirements from 22 to 18 credit hours to help students most affected by the pandemic. The 18 credit hours still meet state graduation standards.

Read more from Grand Rapids: 
Feedback sought for new school at Aberdeen Academy site
Farewell to Kensington

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Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley is a reporter covering Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids and Sparta school districts. An award-winning journalist, Riley spent eight years with the Ludington Daily News, reporting, copy editing, paginating and acting as editor for its weekly entertainment section. He also contributed to LDN’s sister publications, Oceana’s Herald-Journal and the White Lake Beacon. His reporting on issues in education and government has earned accolades from the Michigan Press Association and Michigan Associated Press Media Editors. Riley’s early work in journalism included a stint as an on-air news reporter for WMOM Radio, and work on the editorial staff of various student publications. Riley is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He originally hails from western Washington.


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