US Graduation Rates on Track to Reach 90% by 2020


A new report released this week suggests that American schools are still on track to reach the national goal of having 90% of high school students graduate on time by 2020.

The 2015 report, Building A Grad Nation, which was released by America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center, and the Alliance for Excellent Education, is the sixth annual update on the topic.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education, the nation saw a record high of 81.4% of high schoolers graduate on time in 2013.  This is in part due to an increase in the graduation rates of minority and low-income students.

The US has seen an increase in the graduation rate of Latino students of 4.2 percentage points between 2011 and 2013.  At the same time, African American students generated an increase of 3.7 percentage points.  These gains have also allowed for the closing of the graduation rate among these groups with their white peers.

While recent data shows an increase in graduation rates among low-income students over the past three years, a 15% gap still exists between low and middle/high-income students.

Due to the progress made over the last decade, an additional 1.8 million students have graduated on time.  In order to reach the national goal of having 90% of all high school students across the country graduate on time in 2020, 310,000 more students would need to graduate than did in 2013.  According to the report, the US is on track to reach that goal, writes Allie Bidwell for US News.

One reason for the increase in graduation rates is the decrease in the number of schools across the nation with low graduation rates, often referred to as “dropout factories.”  There are currently fewer than 1,200 such schools across the country, with 1.5 million fewer students attending them.  Among minority groups, less than 15% of all Latinos and 20% of all African Americans are receiving their education at these schools across the country.

While significant gains concerning graduation levels were made in 10 of the largest states in the US, any future gains are dependent on graduation rates in New York, Illinois, Washington and Arizona, which together educate 15% of high school students across the nation.  Graduation rates have been steadily declining or remaining stagnant in each of these states.

“In America, education has always been seen as the pathway out of poverty, but the research in this report shows that is not yet true enough in all locales,” Alma Powell, chairwoman of the America’s Promise Alliance board of directors, said in a statement. “We have to make it true. We have to do everything possible – inside and outside of our schools – to make the promise of America real for every child.”

05 19, 2015
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