EdWeek Report Shows High School Graduation Rates Rising

According to a new study, graduation rates among Americans are at the highest points since 1973. The latest available data shows that 75% of US high schoolers are now earning a high school diploma, and furthermore, the chief driver of growth since 2000 has been improved graduation rates among black and Hispanic students.

The analysis of the data was performed by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center at Education Week. It shows that while overall the rates at which kids are graduation high school are on the upswing, they differed greatly between states and between school districts. For example, New York City has a high school graduation rate of only 54% while in Fairfax County, Virginia, it is 85%.

Fairfax County has the highest graduation rates among large districts in the country, followed by Montgomery County, Maryland which showed a 3% decline from 2009 to 84%.

Hispanic graduation rates jumped 16 points over a decade, hitting 68 percent for the class of 2010. Black graduation rates jumped 13 percentage points over a decade, hitting 62 percent in 2010. Whites saw a 6 percent graduation rate increase over the same period, to 80 percent; Asians, a 5 percent increase, to 81 percent. Native Americans saw a 3 percent rise in graduation rates, to 51 percent.

In addition to ranking the largest districts by highest graduation rate, EdWeek also published a list of districts where the graduation rate is lowest. Detroit, Michigan, where the student population is largely low income and black and Hispanic, has the lowest graduation rate in the country with 46%. It is followed by Denver, Colorado with 50%, Albuquerque, New Mexico with 51%, Los Angeles with 52% and New York City and Milwaukee where graduation rate is 54%.

While students from historically disadvantaged groups are earning diplomas at higher rates than a decade ago, large racial and ethnic disparities persist. Asian-Americans and whites remain the top performers, with graduation rates of 81 percent and 80 percent, respectively, for the class of 2010. A 30-point gap separates Asians and Native Americans.

Even though there are still school districts where graduation rates continue to lag, the majority of states showed gains over the last decade — with some showing gains of over 30 percentage points. The EdWeek research shows that there are now more than a dozen states around the country where the average graduation rate is higher than 80%, while only 6 states remain below 65%.