SALT LAKE CITY — As high school graduation approaches, we can take comfort that more students are now earning diplomas. Utah's graduation rates are just slightly above the U.S. average at 81 percent. That's a clear improvement.
And yet, as we looked closer, we found cause for concern. We found high schools — and even large school districts — where graduation rates hover around 70 percent and below. That's more than one in four high school students who aren't graduating from high school.
Oftentimes graduation rates can be a reflection of demographics. Yet, we found school that defied demographics. Consider Kearns and Hunter high schools in the Granite School District. They have similar populations, but their graduation rates are worlds apart: 66 percent versus 82 percent.
Hunter's principal told us they have programs in place to help struggling students. We saw banners hanging on the walls on the school, signed by students pledging to graduate.
We have also seen schools taking extraordinary measures to improve their success. Roy High School has a 74 percent graduation rate. That school is launching a comprehensive effort to get more kids graduating, starting this summer when administrators will be making home visits to get kids and their parents engaged in attending school.
As a community, we can't afford to have so many student who aren't meeting this basic standard. it hurts their — and our — future prosperity. We commend schools like Hunter and Roy that are focused on getting students to graduate.
Darrell K. Brown is the president of Bonneville International and the KSL broadcast group.