National Graduation Rate Keeps Climbing
Jun 7, 2012 - 3:33:30 PM
1.1 Million Students Still Fail to Earn Diplomas
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - WASHINGTON—June 7, 2012—A new national report from Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center finds that the nation’s graduation rate has posted a solid gain for the second straight year, following a period of declines and stagnation. Amid this continuing turnaround, the nation’s graduation rate has risen to 73 percent, the highest level of high school completion since the late 1970s. The report shows that the nation’s public schools will generate about 90,000 fewer dropouts than the previous year. Nationwide improvements were driven, in large part, by impressive gains among Latino students.
Report Examines Challenges Facing Latino Students
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the educational and economic future of the nation will hinge on our ability to better serve the nation’s large and growing Latino population, which faces unique challenges when it comes to success in high school and the transition to college and career,” said Christopher B. Swanson, Vice President of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. “Given what’s at stake, it is heartening to see that graduation rates for Latinos are improving faster than for any other group of students.”
The nation's 12.1 million Latino schoolchildren encounter significant barriers on the road to educational success: language challenges, poverty, lagging achievement, low rates of high school and college completion, and, more recently, a wave of state laws targeting illegal immigrants that have put additional strain on Hispanic students, families, and communities. The 2012 edition of Diplomas Count—Trailing Behind, Moving Forward: Latino Students in U.S. Schools—takes a closer look at the state of schooling for this population of students, the challenges they face, and the lessons learned from some of the schools, districts, organizations, and communities that work closely with Latino students.
GRADUATION RATE TRENDING UPWARD
The national public school graduation rate for the class of 2009, the most recent year for which data are available, reached 73.4 percent, an increase of 1.7 points from the previous year. Much of this improvement can be attributed to a rapid 5.5 point rise in graduation rates among Latinos and a 1.7 point gain for African-Americans. These increases more than offset modest drops in graduation rates for Asian-American and Native American students. Rates for white students remained largely unchanged.
The class of 2009 marked the end of a decade—punctuated by periods of sluggish growth and some troubling reversals—during which the nation’s graduation rate rose by more than 7 percentage points. These improvements have been widespread. Forty-four states have posted gains ranging from a fraction of a point to more than 20 points. All major demographic groups have also improved, with the drive toward higher graduation rates led by African-Americans and Latinos, both of which have posted improvements of 10 percentage points over the last 10 years.
LATINOS IN FOCUS
Because the Latino graduation rate, at 63 percent, lags substantially behind the U.S. average, this group makes up a disproportionate number of the students who do not finish high school. Of the 1.1 million members of the class of 2012 that we project will fail to graduate with a diploma, about 310,000 (or 27 percent) will be Latinos. Two states—California and Texas—will produce half the nation's Hispanic dropouts.
In a special analysis conducted for Diplomas Count 2012, the EPE Research Center identified a nationwide group of large, majority-Hispanic districts that are beating odds when it comes to graduation rates. Topping the list is California's Lompoc Unified School District, which graduated 89 percent of its Latino students, compared with an expected rate of 67 percent. Three other districts "overachieved" by at least 15 percentage points: the Ceres Unified and Merced Union districts in California and Arizona's Yuma Union High School District. High-performing systems outside the West and Southwest included those serving Providence, R.I., and Yonkers, N.Y.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Access the full contents of the 2012 edition of Diplomas Count, detailed press materials, downloadable state-specific graduation report, and a variety of exclusive online features at www.edweek.org/go/dc12.
A live event will be held in Washington, D.C., on June 8 to mark the release of Diplomas Count 2012. A live Webcast of the event will also be available on edweek.org, starting at 10 a.m. EST.
Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in Bethesda, Md. Its primary mission is to help raise the level of awareness and understanding among professionals and the public of important issues in American education. EPE publishes Education Week, America's newspaper of record for precollegiate education, and covers local, state, national, and international news and issues from preschool through the 12th grade.
The EPE Research Center conducts annual policy surveys, collects data, and performs analyses that appear in Education Week and its special reports—Quality Counts, Technology Counts, and Diplomas Count. The center also conducts independent research studies and maintains the Education Counts and EdWeek Maps online data resources.
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