More than 35,000 Utah students reached the pinnacle of the public education experience by graduating from high school this year. Congratulations to all of them and to those that supported them in their journey!

Graduation from high school is a significant accomplishment. It puts students on the path to continued successes. High school completion is a requirement for entering college and for many jobs. Studies show that high school graduates obtain higher earnings and are less likely to experience poverty and unemployment than those without a high school degree.

The graduation rate for 2015 is not yet available, but the statewide rate has been increasing in recent years. While this improvement can be celebrated, the graduation rate in Utah in 2014 was 83%. This four-year cohort rate for the 2013-2014 school year includes all students who started ninth grade in the 2010-2011 school year, plus students who transferred into the Utah public education system in grade 9 or higher. This means that nearly 1 of 5 ninth grade students don’t go on to graduate from high school.

Business leaders launched Prosperity 2020 after receiving alarming news about poor educational performance. They set a goal to increase the state graduation rate to 90%. They want to take Utah’s rate to the top ten among US states. A high school diploma is not only important to each individual’s success, it also important to our success as a state. Utah’s economy faces national and global competition. Maintaining our competitive advantage and high quality of life requires a well-educated, highly-skilled workforce.

Prosperity 2020 is working with educators and other stakeholders to support and strengthen Utah education. It will take all of us working together to move education forward to increase Utah’s high school graduation rate so more of our students meet this critical milestone and are ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Read more about the Class of 2015 here.