As in every city, town, and state, when disagreements about the school system’s success arise in Tiverton, everybody breaks into their camps. Skeptics point to proficiency tests, and boosters raise anecdotes. Typically, it seems that conclusions come first (based on impressions and personal incentives), and evidence comes second.
Add into this incendiary mix graduation rates. An interactive tool published by the state Department of Education makes it easy to sort through the data for comparisons. Tiverton doesn’t come out looking very good.
Tiverton’s four-year graduation rate (that is, the percentage of students who graduate in the typical four years) was 85.5% in 2017, whereas the average suburban high school managed 90.8%. Tiverton was down from 89.1% the prior year. Nearby Portsmouth and Middletown beat the 2017 suburban average by healthy margins, with 96.7% and 93.8%, respectively.
The picture becomes more bleak if we look just at a population that’s been struggling in recent years: boys. In Tiverton, one in five high school boys (81.7%) did not graduate within four years. For the average suburban school, it was closer to one in 10. Portsmouth was second best in the state, with only about one in 35 boys failing to graduate on time.
The chart is somewhat deceptive when it comes to girls, because Tiverton actually trails Middletown and the suburban average, but the results for boys ought to be considered a local crisis.
Oddly, these results haven’t been the subject of any public debate at all, and the school committee doesn’t seem to have been pressured to answer for the results.