Blog: Latino Ed Beat

More Latinos Are Graduating High School, Yet Gaps Persist

President Obama speaks to crowd.

A record 83.2 percent of students graduated from U.S. high schools in 2015, and the graduation rates of black and Latino students were also up. But there’s still work to be done, President Obama said in his “final report card” speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., Monday.

While almost all states showed improvement, the nationwide graduation rates of black, Hispanic and Native American students, English-language learners, low-income students, and students with disabilities still lag behind those of white and Asian students, U.S. Department of Education data show.

Students learning English as a second language and students with disabilities had the lowest graduation rates, though English-language learners had the highest gains of any subgroup — 8.1 percentage points — over the past five years.

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Cecilia Muñoz, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council, said U.S. Department of Education programs such as Race to the Top and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act passed last year have targeted non-white student groups to shrink the achievement gap, NBC News reports.

Still, “too many states” are cutting back on funding for public education, Obama said, using the opportunity to urge 18-year-old students to vote for leaders who will deliver on their promises.

The administration’s choice of location for the announcement wasn’t random. While D.C. has the worst graduation rate in the country at just 68.5 percent, it’s also the fastest improving. Benjamin Banneker AHS, where the vast majority of students are black or Latino, graduated 100 percent of its seniors last year.

“One hundred percent. It’s been awhile since I did math, but 100 percent is good,” the president joked.

For a more in-depth analysis of the newly-released graduation figures, check out my colleague Emily Richmond’s blog post over on The Educated Reporter, “More Students Are Graduating, But That’s Not the Whole Story.”