Blog: The Educated Reporter

High School Graduation Rate Rises

The high school graduation rate is at its highest point since 1976, a new government report that looked at the 2009-2010 school year shows.

According to U.S. Department of Education calculations, 78.2 percent of high schoolers completed their studies in four years, continuing an upward trend this past decade after a period of slight decline during the 1990s.

The rise in graduation rates was evident among all racial and ethnic groups, though large gaps remain. Hispanics graduated in four years 71 percent of the time—a 10 point jump compared to 2005. Asian and white students led all groups, with graduation rates of 93 and 83 percent, respectively. American Indians were at 69.1 percent while 66.1 percent of African Americans graduated on time.

The Huffington Post: “These positive trends are likely heartening for the Obama administration. The president, who is starting his second term, has set a “2020 goal” to increase the nation’s number of college graduates by 50 percent by the end of the decade. That number would make America the country with the most college graduates per capita. But while the increased graduation rates show that more students are completing secondary education, they’re not enough to push students all the way through college. While students may be graduating high school, fewer than half of those in the class of 2012 were “college ready” as determined by the College Board last fall. This means that without significant changes in the rigor of high school, it will be hard for the nation to achieve Obama’s aspirations.”

WSJ: “Despite the improvements, U.S. high-school students are still failing to keep up with international peers, which contributes to concerns about U.S. competitiveness overall. The U.S., which once had one of the highest graduation rates of any developed country, has slipped and now ranks 22nd out of 27 developed countries, according to a 2012 ranking by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

The Washington Post: “Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew center, said the findings confirm trends his organization has been tracking. ‘We’ve seen a surge in the Hispanic high school completion rate,’ he said.

“He pointed to the nation’s soft economy as one reason more students are staying in school but added that there is probably a shift in demographics at play, too. As the number of Hispanic immigrants declines, more high school students are likely to have been born in the United States and value education, Lopez said.”

AP: “’When I grew up on the South Side of Chicago it wasn’t great, but I had lots of friends who dropped out and they could go work in the stockyards or steel mills and they could buy a home, support a family, do OK,’ Duncan said.

“But those jobs are gone and won’t come back, he said.”

Bloomberg: “The Obama administration has pushed states to institute student-tracking systems and improve graduation rates through its $5 billion Race to the Top grants and other programs aimed at turning around the worst-performing schools, often called ‘dropout factories.’

“Efforts to identify and improve those schools, which educate a disproportionate share of immigrant and other minority children, may be starting to pay off, according to Patricia Gandara, an education professor who co-directs the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles.”

Last year, The Dept. of Ed. unveiled a new method for calculating the graduation rate, but it uses different methodology and should not be compared to previous years, the Department said.