Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013 - (Page 22)
EDUCATION WEEK JUNE 6, 2013
Diplomas Count > www.edweek.org/go/dc13
Graduation Rate Approaching Milestone
search Center projects that 1 million students
from this year’s high school class will not graduate with a diploma. That amounts to more than
5,500 students lost each school day, or one student every 31 seconds.
A Class Portrait
Beneath an overall graduation rate nearing
the 75 percent mark, the research center finds
several noteworthy patterns that reflect public
education’s past and offer a glimpse into its future. In particular, the analysis shows that the
accelerating graduation-rate recovery spans demographic groups.
In fact, much of the nation’s improvement
since 2000 has been driven by strong gains for
historically underserved groups. Graduation
rates for Latino students have skyrocketed 16
percentage points during the past decade, reaching 68 percent for the class of 2010. Rates for
black students, now at 62 percent, have risen 13
In a partial exception to the trend, Native
American students have experienced relatively
modest improvements since 2000—an increase
of only 3 percentage points, and have been on a
downward trend since 2008.
Rates for whites and Asian-Americans have
increased by 6 and 5 points, respectively.
One implication of these distinct improvement
trajectories is a narrowing of the graduation
gaps between whites and their Latino and black
RATES STILL RISING
The nation’s public school graduation rate continued to
climb for the third year in a row, reaching 74.7 percent
for the class of 2010. The last time three-quarters of high
school students graduated was in 1973. The strongest
year-over-year improvements were found for Latino, black,
and Asian students.
ALL STUDENTS 74.7
AMERICAN INDIAN 51.1
SOURCE: EPE Research Center, 2013
peers. The white-Latino diploma gap nearly
halved in the past decade, with the black-white
gap shrinking by almost 30 percent.
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.
State and Local Perspectives
Similar divides are found across the states
and from district to district. At the extremes,
a 28-percentage-point gap separates Vermont
(graduating 85 percent of students) from the
District of Columbia (57 percent). In all, 13
states are now graduating at least 80 percent of
their public high school students, while rates fall
below 65 percent in six states.
Graduation rates have also risen in a majority of states during the past decade. Forty-six
states have posted gains ranging from a fraction
of a percentage point to nearly 32 points. Among
the states that have lost ground, all but one saw
declines of 2 points or less.
Among the nation’s largest school districts,
graduation rates, likewise, vary greatly. Fairfax
County, Va., ranks first among the 50 largest
districts with a graduation rate of 85 percent;
Maryland’s Baltimore and Montgomery counties follow closely, at 84 percent each. Graduation rates surpass the national average in 18 of
the 50 largest systems.
In an original analysis, the epe Research Center compared actual district graduation rates
with the results that would be expected, based
on a detailed statistical profile that takes into
account 10 characteristics, including size, location, segregation levels, and per-pupil spending.
Three-quarters of these 50 largest systems are
exceeding graduation expectations.
To add context for high school graduation
rates, the epe Research Center conducts an
original survey tracking 18 state policy indicators in three areas: college- and work-readiness
definitions, high school-completion credentials,
and exit exams. This year’s results indicate that
states are holding steady on those measures,
with few large shifts related to graduation requirements since 2012.
Thirty-eight states have now defined college
readiness, one more than last year. A longer
view, however, reveals more dramatic changes.
Only 11 states had college-readiness definitions in place in 2007, when the center began
monitoring this area. The number of states
defining the skills and knowledge needed for
work readiness jumped from 21 in 2007 to 38
The focus on college and work preparation
has also prompted states to re-evaluate the
rigor of graduation requirements. According
to data from the Education Commission of
the States, the total number of required credits grew from an average of 20.9 for the class
of 2012 to 21.1 for 2013 graduates. n
The original research that appears in Diplomas
Count 2013 was produced with support from the
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, at www.mott.org.
By Christopher B. Swanson & Sterling C. Lloyd
t the beginning of the last decade,
before concerns about the nation’s graduation rate ascended to
prominence on the policy agenda,
only about two-thirds of U.S. public school students were finishing
high school with a regular diploma.
A new analysis from the Editorial
Projects in Education Research Center finds
that the graduation rate for America’s public
schools stands just shy of 75 percent for the
class of 2010, the most recent year for which
data are available.
The graduation rate, which has risen nearly
2 full percentage points from the previous year
and 8 points in the past decade, has reached its
highest point since 1973. At the current pace of
improvement, the portion of students earning
a diploma could surpass the historical high of
77.1 percent within the next few years.
The research center calculates graduation
rates for the nation, states, and every public
school district in the country using the Cumulative Promotion Index (cpi) method and data
from the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data.
With graduation rates approaching all-timehigh territory, there is reason both to be encouraged and to keep a focus on the efforts that have
But there is a flip side to these gains: Far too
many young people are still failing to complete
a meaningful high school education. The epe Re-
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013
Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013
A ‘Neglected’ Population Goes Back to School
Age Can Determine Access To Free Education, Diploma Pathways
State Statistics and Strategies
High School Equivalency Test Gets a Makeover
Reasons to Stay: Tailored Interventions
Online Providers Find a Market In Returning Dropouts
Second-Chance Challenge: Keeping Students in School
A Chicago Charter Network Stanches The Flow of Dropouts
Sound-Engineering Class Hooks Reluctant Student
Teenage Father Makes Journey From Dropout to Top Student
Honor Student Disconnects, Re-engages at CCA
Graduation Rate Approaching Milestone
TABLE: Graduation in the United States
DATA: Detailed Analytic Portrait
TABLE: Graduation Policies For the Class of 2013
Sources and Notes
Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013