High School Graduation Rates, 1911 and 2010

15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, February 28, 1911: I really cannot think of one thing that happened today of marked importance concerning my little world. One of the boys stopped school today. 

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later: 

It’s amazing how much high school graduation rates have changed over the last one hundred years. In 1911 only about 20% of youth attended high school—and fewer than 10% graduated. Whereas, in 2010, about 90% of all students in Pennsylvania graduated from high school; and, the graduation rate for the Warrior Run School District (the district that now includes McEwensville) was 91%.

I wonder what the boy did after he dropped out of McEwensville High School. Even as a high school drop-out he had a higher educational level than most people in 1911.

Today the nation is focused on enacting policies that will ensure that all students graduate from high school “college and career ready”. Are schools better or worse now than a hundred years ago?

In Grandma’s day many people went on to lead successful lives with an 8th grade education. In my father’s day, a high school diploma was generally the minimal requirement for a good job. When I entered the job market, a bachelor’s degree was often a needed qualification. And, today it seems like many positions require at least a M.S.

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