Lowest Graduation Rates By State - The percentage of students graduating from high school on time in the United States hit a record high of 81.4 percent in 2013 and is on track to reach 90 percent by 2020, according to a new report released Tuesday by GradNation. This is the third year in a row that the rate remains on track to meet that target in 2020. But problems remain, including wide disparities in graduation rates between low-income students and minority students and their more privileged peers. Several key states have much work to do to ensure continued progress.
The Building a Grad Nation 2015 report is the sixth update of GradNation, a joint project of America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center, and the Alliance for an Excellent Education. It uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the US Department of Education.
Lowest Graduation Rates By State
In general, the news was promising. The graduate graduation rate in 2013 reached a record high of 81.4 percent, an increase of 1.4 percent from the previous year and 2.4 percent from 2011. To meet the 2020 target, the class of Have 310,000 more college graduates than the class of 2013 by 2020.
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This is not an insurmountable task. But states must continue to close the achievement gap between minority and low-income students and their peers. While some states have made great strides in this area, the gap is widening in others.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan commends teachers, students, parents and community partners for improving graduation rates, but said more work remains to be done.
“…while we should be encouraged by predictions such as this year's Grad Nation report, we know there is still more hard work to be done to truly prepare all, not just some, students for college success, life and life," he said. in a press release. "Education must be an equalizer that can help overcome the hardships that so many of our students face."
The 2015 Building a Grad Nation report offers several recommendations for policymakers to help maintain graduation rates.
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A total of 29 states met or exceeded the national average, and six states were within 2 percentage points of meeting the 90 percent goal. But 14 states aren't far behind with success rates of 69 to 78 percent.
Fifty-five percent of public high school students live in 10 states. GradNation attributes much of the nationwide progress to gains in some of these states between 2011 and 2013. Some of those 10 states improved, including California, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. But in others, including New York, Illinois, Washington and Arizona, success rates didn't drop or even dropped.
Nevada's graduation rate improved the most between 2011 and 2013 (up 8.7 percentage points), while Wyoming saw the biggest drop (down 3 percentage points). Iowa had the highest graduation rate (89.7 percent). Oregon was the lowest (68.7 percent).
One of the biggest challenges to meeting the 2020 target is closing what the report calls a "blatant" graduation gap between low-income and minority students and their peers.
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In terms of the income gap (called the "opportunity gap" in the report), high- and middle-income students were already close to reaching the 90 percent target with an 88.2 percent graduation rate. In other words, graduating on time is the norm for these students, the report said. But the graduation rate for low-income students was 15 percentage points lower. The gap has narrowed in 28 states but widened in 18 states since 2011.
Some states have been great at closing the opportunity gap. Kentucky, for example, "stands out like a beacon," the report said. In that state, the graduation rate for low-income students (85 percent) was almost identical to that of middle- and high-income students. Connecticut also fared well, narrowing the opportunity gap by 6 percentage points between 2011 and 2013, more than any other state.
When it came to students of color, the nation as a whole saw progress. The number of Hispanic/Latino and African American students is increasing, and graduation rates for these groups are steadily increasing. But the gap still exists. Graduation rates for Hispanics/Latinos and African Americans were 75.2 percent and 70.7 percent, respectively, compared to 86.6 percent for White students and 88.7 percent for Asian students.
A lack of progress in some key states threatens to undo national gains. Graduation rates for African-American students fell significantly in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, California and Illinois. Those states have about 40 percent African American students, according to the report.
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In six states combined, more than 70 percent of the Hispanic/Latino population is educated, but only one (Texas) has the graduation rate for this group rise above the national average.
Students with disabilities also continued to fall behind. At 61.9 percent, the group's pass rate was 2.9 percentage points higher than in 2011, but remained 20 percentage points below the national average.
One of the keys to meeting the 2020 target is the nation's largest school districts. The report says that the 500 largest public school districts (enrollment of 15,000 or more) collectively enroll 40 percent of all public school students, including 58 percent of the nation's African American and Hispanic/Latino students and 47 percent of college students with a low income. . Of these schools, 212 have seen their graduation rate increase by 4 percentage points or more since 2011, while 169 have seen little or no improvement.
The number of so-called "dropout factories" continued to fall, helping to improve graduation rates among students of color. Dropout factories are high schools with chronically low graduation rates. Historically, their enrollment has consisted almost exclusively of low-income and minority students. From 2012 to 2013, the number of companies opting out fell by more than 200, and by more than 800 since 2002.
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The launch of the GradNation report on Tuesday included a morning discussion from some coalition leaders about the data. During the afternoon session, General Colin Powell and author Robert Putnam spoke about the opportunity gap and its implications for the American dream.
In the morning session, John Bridgeland, president of Civic Enterprises, and Dr. Robert Balfanz, co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, how some states and districts have closed the graduation gap. They called Fresno, California; Tacoma, Washington; Connecticut and Kentucky. They have a policy that focuses on data, collaboration and taking into account the "whole child" including social-emotional development. The report covers case studies.
To meet the 2020 goal, the class of 2020 must graduate 310,000 more students (or "three baby boomers," as Balfanz put it) than the class of 2013. But here's the catch: to make sure all subgroups that meet the 90 percent goal, four of every five students in that Rose Bowl Stadium should be low-income students. One in three must be African American and one in three must be Hispanic/Latino. The full 40 percent should be students with disabilities, he said.
Later in the day, General Powell and Putnam said success rates are critical to ensuring that all children can achieve the American dream.
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"It comes down to the concept of home, the concept of family and the realization that children need structure," he said.
"All kids do stupid things," he said. “If you're a middle-class kid and you get into an accident, you have airbags to protect you. When a poor kid does something stupid like that, there are no airbags.'
One of the best solutions, he said, “is to convince those at the top (income level) that this is their problem. So that all our fellow citizens understand that this is a big problem."
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Percentage Of High School Graduates That Go To College In The U.s. By State & Demographics
When you look at our national map of high school graduation rates, it's impossible not to notice how low graduation rates are in the Deep South. These states don't have the worst graduation rates in the country. That questionable distinction belongs to Oregon, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Yet the southern states collectively represent a long string of underperforming areas, with very few bright spots. Alabama is the only state with counties with a graduation rate above 95 percent, and it only has six. (Most are small and complex
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