Maine’s high school graduation rate increased slightly to 86.5 percent for 2013-14, and remains one of the top in the nation, state education officials said Tuesday.

The graduation rate is up from 86.4 percent last year, and up from 80.3 percent in 2010.

“All children can learn and deserve equal opportunity to do so in our schools,” said acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin. “I want to thank Maine’s educators for their hard work in (helping) an increasing number of historically academically disadvantaged students find success.”

Maine’s overall graduation rate is 10th-highest in the nation, based on 2013 data from the U.S. Department of Education.


In subcategories, Maine ranks sixth in the nation for its limited English proficiency graduation rate, 12th for its economically disadvantaged student graduation rate and 14th for its graduation rate among students with disabilities, according to the federal data.

The graduation rates for all of Maine’s 134 high schools are available at

Viewed over a five-year period, the graduation rates at Portland’s three high schools have shifted significantly, according to the state data released Tuesday.

Casco Bay High School, which opened 10 years ago as an alternative high school, jumped from 70.5 percent graduating in 2010 to 86.4 percent in 2014, but the graduating class size was only 40 to 60 students annually over that period. Deering High School’s graduation rate dropped to 78.7 percent in 2014, compared to 83.4 percent in 2010. The Portland High School graduation rate was 77.7 percent, up from 68.7 percent in 2010.

In other districts:

Wells/Ogunquit, with 104 students, had a 100 percent graduation rate, the only school with more than 100 students to have a perfect rank.

 Portland suburbs did well, including Greely High School in Cumberland (98.1 percent,) Cape Elizabeth High School (97.5 percent,) and Yarmouth High School with 97.5 percent.

 Statewide, 49 high schools had at least a 90 percent graduation rate.

 Only a dozen schools had graduation rates below 80 percent.

 Lewiston High School’s graduation rate was one of the lowest in the state, at 69.9 percent in 2014, up from 66 percent five years ago.

“We’re still a long way from where we want to be,” Lewiston Superintendent Bill Webster said. The district is adding alternative learning programs, more student support and greater attention to mentoring to improve its graduation rates.

Although the district has one of the lowest graduation rates in the state, Webster said its five- to six-year graduation rate is closer to 75 percent.

One big reason for the low graduation rate, he said, was multi-generational poverty.

“A material percentage of our students come from poverty, from homes with either low aspirations or they just don’t place value on education,” he said.

According to state figures, 71.5 percent of students in the Lewiston district qualify for free and reduced lunch, a common benchmark of poverty, compared to 46.6 percent of students statewide.

Internal data show that the district’s immigrant students have a higher graduation rate than non-immigrant students, Webster noted.

“What’s clear today is that we need to greatly expand our alternative programs. We have a lot of work to do to improve (the students’) success rate,” he said. “One thing that hasn’t happened is reducing our standards.”


The state’s schools are currently transitioning to what’s known as proficiency-based learning, which means students will not move on academically until they show that they have mastered a concept. Webster said that focus on individual proficiency on topics will help schools identify students who need more help earlier.

All schools will award proficiency-based diplomas starting with the class of 2018.

State education officials noted that graduation rates for Maine’s largest two minority student groups were up over the last three years. However, the number of students in those groups is much smaller, so a handful of students graduating or not graduating can result in big swings in the overall graduation rate. Among those results:

 The graduation rate for black students in 2014 was 79.2 percent, up from 72 percent in 2012. In 2014, there were 327 black high school graduates out of a total 12,362 high school graduates.

 The graduation rate for Asian students was 94.4 percent, up from 89 percent in 2012. In 2014, there were 220 Asian graduates in the state.

 The graduation rate for Hispanic students was 71.1 percent, down from 79 percent in 2011. In 2014, there were 163 Hispanic graduates in the state.