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School-age children are healthy and 4 more... less...


All Vermonters have fair and just opportunities to be healthy

All Vermonters have access to quality education

Vermont's children and young people achieve their potential

Economic Opportunity: Vermonters are supported in pursuing economic prosperity, and free from poverty

% of students awarded a high school diploma 4 years after starting 9th grade

Current Value




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Story Behind the Curve

Updated: February 2023

Author: Planning Unit, Vermont Department of Health

Over the past decade, graduation rates four years after starting ninth grade have fluctuated and recently gone down from 88% to 83%. This is lower than the regional average (89%) [1] and slightly above the national goal (82%) from Healthy People 2020 [2].

[1] New England Secondary School Consortium

[2] Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators: Social Determinants of Health

Why Is This Important?

Research on the contributors to positive health outcomes, suggests education is one of the strongest predictors of health. People with more education are more likely to live longer and have better health. Disparities in health and in educational achievement are closely linked; this is reflected in the data we collect in Vermont as well as in national reports. Graduating from high school on time—in four years— is a common measure of educational attainment that is well studied.[1]

[1] Reframing School Dropout as a Public Health Issue


The Health Department works with numerous partners to turn the curve on improving high school graduation rates, including the following:

A list of school health partners is available on the Department of Health website.

What Works

It takes a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach to improve graduation rates. The best health practices to improve graduation rates and reduce school dropout identified by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention are:

  • Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child programs;
  • Health clinics;
  • Mental health programs;
  • Substance abuse prevention and treatment programs;
  • Comprehensive sex education, HIV prevention, and pregnancy prevention programs;
  • Special services for pregnant and parenting teens;
  • Violence prevention programs;
  • Interventions to change the schools’ social climate


Many of the programs represented on the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child team at the health department support these areas of focus or engage with partners to address them. In addition, the recently formed e Health in All Policies Task Force has identified equity, affordability and access as its core values in creating health in Vermont. This Cabinet-level body was established by Executive Order No. 7-15 to identify programs, policies and strategies to improve the health of Vermonters, especially vulnerable populations and to coordinate across agencies around issues of healthy communities.

Notes on Methodology

Four-year high school cohort graduation rate is calculated by tracking students from the time they enter grade nine to graduation. Students who transfer into a school are included in the cohort, while students who transfer out are dropped from the cohort.

Clear Impact Suite is an easy-to-use, web-based software platform that helps your staff collaborate with external stakeholders and community partners by utilizing the combination of data collection, performance reporting, and program planning.

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