Graduation Rates Rise, Achievement Gap Narrows

Posted by Nancy Rogan on

States are increasing their graduation rates and narrowing the achievement gap for students of color, students with disabilities, low-income students and English language learners, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Education this week.

The National Center for Education Statistics is expected to release complete graduation rate data, including the current national graduation rate, in 2016.

“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities and students is paying off, particularly after several years of intense work by educators transitioning to new, higher standards,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release.

According to the Department of Education’s data, 36 states saw increases in overall graduation rates, six states saw decreases, and eight states saw no change since 2012-13. The biggest gains came from Delaware, Alabama, Oregon, West Virginia and Illinois.

Most states narrowed the achievement gap for African-American and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities, English language learners, and low-income students. This past spring, the 2015 Building a GradNation report urged policy makers to help more students of color, students from low-income families and students from low-income families graduate on par with their peers.

“We are encouraged by states’ continued progress overall and particularly encouraged by the continued narrowing of the gap for underserved students,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “The gains are the result of hard work by millions of young people, their parents, educators and people from every sector who have come together to create brighter futures for young people all across the country.” 

“Still, with nearly 500,000 young people leaving school each year, there is much more work to be done,” Gomperts continued. “We must continue to focus on closing the equity gaps that plague nearly all American cities and towns. And we must provide more resources and sources of support in communities where too many young people face too many hurdles to graduation with too little help.” 

The national graduation rate reached a record high of 81.4 percent in 2013, according to the most recent comprehensive data available.

America’s Promise Alliance leads the GradNation campaign to reach a 90 percent on-time high school graduation by 2020 and will release the 2016 Building a Grad Nation report, written by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Civic Enterprises, in the spring.  


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