U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High

Gaps continue to narrow for underserved students

Barack Obama greeting graduates
President Barack Obama greets graduates, some overcome with emotion, before he delivers the commencement address at the Booker T. Washington High School graduation at Cook Convention (Photo credit: (AP, Charles Dharapak)

U.S. students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The nation’s high school graduation rate hit 82% in 2013–14, the highest level since states adopted a new uniform way of calculating graduation rates five years ago.

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“America’s students have achieved another record milestone by improving graduation rates for a fourth year,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, in a statement. “The hard work of teachers, administrators, students, and their families has made these gains possible and, as a result, many more students will have a better chance of going to college, getting a good job, owning their own home, and supporting a family. We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains, including for students of color.”

What’s more, the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas continues to narrow, and traditionally underserved populations like English language learners and students with disabilities continue to make gains, the data show.

“A high school diploma is absolutely critical, absolutely attainable, and key to future success in college, in the workforce, and in life. It is encouraging to see our graduation rate on the rise, and I applaud the hard work we know it takes to see this increase. But too many students never get their diploma, never walk across the graduation stage, and while our dropout numbers are also decreasing, we remain committed to urgently closing the gaps that still exist in too many schools and in too many communities.”

Overall Changes in Graduation Rates

 

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

3-yr change (2010-11 to 2013-14)

American Indian/Alaska Native

65

67

69.7

69.6

4.6

Asian/Pacific Islander

87

88

88.7

89.4

2.4

Hispanic

71

73

75.2

76.3

5.3

Black

67

69

70.7

72.5

5.5

White

84

86

86.6

87.2

3.2

Low Income

70

72

73.3

74.6

4.6

English Learners

57

59

61.1

62.6

5.6

Students with Disabilities

59

61

61.9

63.1

4.1

Total

79

80

81.4

82.3

3.3

 

Gap Changes

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

Black-white gap

17

17

15.9

14.8

Hispanic-white gap

13

13

11.4

11

Since 2010, states, districts, and schools have been using a new, common metric—the adjusted cohort graduation rate—to promote greater accountability and develop strategies that will help reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates in schools nationwide. For four consecutive years, graduation rates have continued to climb, which reflects continued progress among America’s high school students.

To ensure the economic strength of our country, students must graduate from high school ready for college, careers, and life. The Department of Education has invested more than $1.5 billion in early learning; implemented strategies that improve achievement and close opportunity gaps, and awarded billions of dollars through grant programs such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and School Improvement Grants; and expanded college access and affordability for families.

To view the graduation rate data—including a state-by-state breakdown—click here.



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