According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Education, new data from its National Center for Education Statistics reveal that graduation rates of black and Hispanic students have increased by nearly four percentage points from 2011 to 2013.
American students overall are now (2012–2013) graduating from high school at the rate of 81%, according to data from the NCES—the highest ever.
“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities and students is paying off. This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student—no matter their zip code—for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength.”
The data show that all student groups improved; the graduation rate of black students increased by 3.7 percentage points. The DOE has invested more than $1 billion in early education and implemented other strategies that appear to be paying off in higher graduation rates. Its other efforts include grant programs like Race to the Top.
President Obama is calling for an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, the statement said, the widely criticized current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act originally signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. According to the DOE, Duncan has called on Congress to create a bipartisan law that will among other things address funding inequities that affect schools serving largely low-income students. He also wants the law to expand high-quality preschools and support efforts to reduce unnecessary testing of students.