High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High

Thursday, May 01, 2014

To the delight of education leaders, the U.S. high school graduation rate has reached its highest level on record. The U.S. Department of Education reported Monday that 80% of seniors received their diplomas in 2012, the most recent year with available statistics.


For comparison, the non-governmental Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which publishes the national magazine Education Week, reported that the high school graduation rate in 2007 was only 69%.


The 2012 numbers released by Education Secretary Arne Duncan showed girls had a higher graduation rate than boys, 84% vs. 77%.


Duncan said there’s still room for improvement. “Let’s talk in concrete terms about who is behind those numbers,” Duncan said, according to The Washington Post. “That 20% represents 718,000 young people, among them a sharply disproportionate share of African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans” as well as special-needs students and English-language learners, he said.


More than 40% of students from low-income families did not graduate in many states, such as Alaska, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico and Minnesota.


Nationally, black students had a 69% graduation rate and Hispanic students a 73% rate—far below those of white students (86%) and Asians (88%).


Rates fluctuated considerably from state to state for students with disabilities. In Arkansas, 79% of these students received their diplomas, but their counterparts in Louisiana had only a 33% rate.


Similar broad disparities occurred among English-language learners. Eighty-three percent of these students in West Virginia graduated, but only 24% of them did so in Arizona.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

High School Graduation Rates at Historic High (by Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post)

The Nation’s Long and Winding Path to Graduation (Education Week) (pdf)

U.S. Graduation Rate Continues Decline (by Christopher B. Swanson, Education Week)

Public High School Four-year On-time Graduation Rates and Event Dropout Rates: School Years 2010-11 and 2011-12 (U.S. Department of Education) (pdf)


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