Data Shows US Graduation Achievement Gaps Narrowing

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New data from the Department of Education shows a decrease in the racial achievement gap among high school students in the United States.

According to the data, almost every single racial and ethnic subgroup has seen increases in their graduation rates, at a higher rate than their white peers, in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years.

The data comes just one month after the DOE announced that high school graduation rates across the country have reached an all-time high, with 81% of students in the country graduating high school within four years during the 2012-13 school year.  The rate increased from 79% in 2010-11, writes Allie Bidwell for US News.

“America’s students have achieved another record-setting milestone,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement last month. “We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains, including for students of color.”

The graduation rate among African American students rose by 3.7 percentage points, while an increase of 4.2 percentage points was seen among Hispanic students over the two years studied.  Meanwhile, white students saw an increase of 2.6 percentage points.  American Indian, low-income, English-language learning students, and those with disabilities saw their graduation rates rise at a faster pace than the overall rate of white students and at a faster rate than the national average.

Asian/Pacific Islander students were the only group to see a slower graduation rate than their white peers.

The greatest increase was seen among American Indian students, who held a graduation rate of 65% during the 2010-11 school year, but saw that rise to 69.7% by 2012-13.  That increase created a two-year increase of almost 5 percentage points.

Despite the overall graduation rate of 81% across the country, white students still graduated at a higher rate than most of the other subgroup, at 86.6%.  Asian/Pacific Islander students were the only subgroup to hold a higher graduation rate than white students, at 88.7% in the 2012-13 school year.

“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities and students is paying off. This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. “While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student – no matter their ZIP code – for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength.”

In his meeting with leadership from the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents urban school districts across the country, President Barack Obama discussed the rise in graduation rates, referring to it as evidence that the initiatives his administration has been working on are successful, reports Rebecca Klein for The Huffington Post.