- According to a new report from GradNation, U.S. high school graduation rates rose for all student subgroups and are now at an all-time high average of 82.3%, which the report says "indicat[es] that progress has had far-reaching benefits for all."
- Despite the organization's projections of reaching a 90% rate by 2020, "troubling" gaps exist between graduation rates for white students and students of color, low-income and wealthier students, and students with and without disabilities.
- The report also suggests that if states reported information related to those students who were able to graduate over the course of five years instead of four, the national rate would rise to 85.3%.
Under the Obama Administration, one focus of the U.S. Department of Education has been closing "drop-out factories," or poorly performing high schools that severely underserved their attendees. A recent Boston Globe op-ed by Thomas B. Fordham Institute Ohio research director Aaron Churchill noted studies in Ohio and New York City, highlighting how they found that high school graduation rates improved when low-performing schools were shut down.
And despite the good news regarding the rising graduation rate, the gaps between races and classes persist and require proactive solutions. In New York state, while the rate of high school graduates continues to increase, a racial achievement gap results in 88% of white students graduating on time as opposed to 65% of black and Hispanic students. Just half of students with disabilities are able to finish on time.
Nationally, students of color also aren't graduating from college at the same rate as their white peers. A study from the Education Trust found that among the 255 schools that improved rates, “more than 20% didn’t make any progress with underrepresented students at all, and more than half that did still didn't close existing gaps.”