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October 19, 2016

2015 Graduation Rates: All-time high

The National Center for Education Statistics released the 2014-2015 on-time high school graduation rates, and they look good: 83.2%. The all-time high rate continues the upward trends we have seeing for the last decade.

But, not all states look as good as others:

GradRates by State

While every student group is improving, you can see below that gaps between them are still present.

Grad Rates by Group

When you combine student poverty with state graduation rates, you see a picture that is a bit more clear.

Grad Rates

While the graph above is simply a best-fit line, it does show that states with higher poverty also tend to have lower graduation rates.  What we should be looking at are states with the same poverty rates as others, but much higher graduation rates, to identify possible lessons.  Is it a more homogeneous population?  Are more resources invested in schools?  Do teachers have better training?  Are graduation requirements easier?  There is a lot that goes into graduation rates.  So, even though we can be excited that they’re increasing for all groups, increasing opportunities for thousands of students, we still have a lot of gaps to fill.

 

Filed under: Achievement Gaps,CPE,Graduation rates,High school — Tags: , , — Chandi Wagner @ 10:37 am





January 22, 2015

Shhh!! Don’t say anything but more students are graduating now than ever before

One of the great secrets in education is the fact that our nation’s high schools are graduating more students on-time than ever before. Even after it was first reported last year that the national high school on-time graduation rate reached 80 percent it still seemed like this news was all too-often overlooked by critics and proponents of public education alike. Maybe this will change with President Obama highlighting this fact in his State of the Union speech last night. But the fact that the latest graduation rates were released last week by the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) without many noticing doesn’t give me much hope.

So, in case you hadn’t heard already here are the facts. Our national on-time high school graduate rate reached another all-time high of 81 percent for the Class of 2013—the most recent year graduation rate data is available. This represents an increase from 79 percent for the Class of 2011. Keep in mind as well, this is an actual graduation rate not an estimate that NCES and most states had used for years. Since states have developed data systems in recent years that can determine which individual students entered ninth-grade and graduated four years later with at least a standard high school diploma it is now possible to calculate an actual on-time graduation rate.

Yet, this rate doesn’t even include late high school graduates who took more than four years to earn the same diploma. If the number of late graduates remains similar to what I found in my Better Late Than Never report it is likely that including students who take longer than four years to earn a standard high school diploma would increase the national graduation rate above 85 percent. Keep in mind, the national graduation rate hovered around 70 percent between the mid-1970s and early 2000s, making these gains all the more impressive.

Just a decade ago, few thought that reaching the 90 percent mark would even be possible, even if late graduates were included. However, now it appears the 90 percent mark is within reach. In fact, Iowa has already achieved a 90 percent on-time graduation rate according to NCES data. And five other states -Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin- are getting close to that marker, boasting 88 percent on-time graduation rates. Again, if late graduates were included it is likely that these states are graduating over 90 percent of their students.

And a number of states not as close to the 90 percent threshold also have reason to be optimistic. Particularly Nevada, Alabama, and New Mexico who have ranked among the bottom of states in terms of graduation rates. From 2011 to 2013, each of them improved their on-time graduation rates by 9, 8, and 7 percentage points, respectively. Such increases represent thousands more students earning the minimal credentials needed to be prepared for life after high school.

Of course, no one should be satisfied until all students leave high school with a high school diploma, even if it is as likely as a baseball player hitting a thousand. Everyone wants all students to be college and career ready and our nation’s high schools have made tremendous strides toward meeting that goal. A high school diploma may not guarantee success after high school but without one the chances are minimal. While there is more work to do, our high schools should be congratulated for this tremendous accomplishment. Fortunately, it looks like they are heading towards another record next year. If given the support they need, there is no reason our nation’s schools can’t obtain and surpass the 90 percent graduation rate. When they do, hopefully it won’t be such a secret. – Jim Hull






September 20, 2013

High school graduation rates show public schools are improving

Good news about our public schools is hard to come by. Not because there isn’t any, but because there is so much focus on the areas our public schools need to improve, the areas where our schools are improving get overshadowed.

That is why it is so important to promote the success our public schools are having graduating more high school students. Back in June, I highlighted a report from Education Week that showed U.S. high school graduation rates were at the highest levels in 40 years. Recently, a new study published in the journal Education Next found similar results.

However, the study conducted by Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Richard Murnane and doctoral student Stephen Hoffman dug deeper into the graduation rate data. In fact, they examined graduation rates dating back to 1900 and found graduation rates:

  • rose from 6 to 80 percent between 1900 and 1970.
  • remained stagnant between 1970 and 2000.
  • significantly improved between 2000 and 2010.

Graduation rates increased between 2000 and 2010 despite the fact that the proportion of black and Hispanic students increased substantially over the same time period. One would have predicted that an increase in the enrollment of such traditionally disadvantaged minority groups would have negatively impact graduation rates. Instead, the data shows how our public schools adapted to their changing student populations and graduated a greater number of black and Hispanic students. While black and Hispanic students are still less likely to graduate high school than their white peers, there is much less of a difference now than a decade ago.

Such success should be lauded but it shouldn’t hide the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done. No educator or policymaker should be satisfied until all students earn a high school diploma. Nearly two out of every 10 students still don’t graduate high school, with minority students remaining less likely to graduate than their white peers. Yet, our public schools are clearly on the right track and their recent efforts should be supported, so one day soon every student in America earns a high school diploma. – Jim Hull

 






September 13, 2013

Back to school but running late

Across the country, thousands of students are entering their last year of high school. While the vast majority of them started high school four years earlier, unbeknownst to many people, there are a significant number of students who began high school even earlier. Even though, it will take these students more than four years to earn a high school diploma, they will have to complete the same course requirements as their peers who graduated on-time. Even so, in some states these students are not recognized as graduates under their state’s accountability systems.

This begs the question: Should students who take longer than four years to graduate high school be counted as graduates for accountability purposes? Some states don’t count students who graduate late because they feel that allowing students to graduate in more than four years sets a lower bar for high school graduation. On the other hand, other states do count late high school graduates because they feel that any student who completes their academic requirements for a standard high school diploma should be recognized, even if it takes longer than the traditional four years.

Both arguments are focused on ensuring students are properly prepared for life after high school. So, to determine which argument holds the most water we need to find out whether students who graduate late are as well off after high school as students who graduate on-time. This is precisely what our report, Better Late Than Never set out to answer. What we found was that students were, in fact, slightly better off graduating on-time which lends credence to the argument that counting late graduates sets a lower bar for graduation. However, we also found students were much better off after high school if they graduated late than not earning a high school diploma even if they went on to receive GED or other high school equivalency.

For example, late high school graduates are better off than dropouts and GED recipients in a number of postsecondary outcomes where late high school graduates were more likely to:

  • have a full-time job with insurance and retirement benefits.
  • go onto and succeed in college.
  • take part in their communities.
  • live a healthier lifestyle.

Late Grad_Employ                         Late Grad_Vote

As our report shows it is preferable for students to graduate on-time but students are much better off after high school if they graduate with a standard high school diploma than not graduating at all, even if they go on to earn a GED. So, not only should states count late graduates as graduates for accountability purposes, states should encourage schools to stick with students who may have fallen behind their peers and get them back on track to graduate with a standard high school diploma even if it takes longer than four years. – Jim Hull

Filed under: Graduation rates,High school — Tags: , , — Jim Hull @ 7:30 am





June 7, 2013

Big improvement in high school graduation rates

High School Graduation Rate Climbs to Highest Point in 40 Years

The annual Diplomas Count report, courtesy of the newspaper Education Week (EdWeek), was released yesterday, showing yet another steady increase in the national graduation rate over the past three years. EdWeek defines graduates as students who earn a standard diploma or better in four years. Along with the national graduation rate, EdWeek also provides graduation rates by state showing the trends from 2000 to 2010 and a breakdown by student subgroups. This year’s edition also highlights several articles concerning targeted dropout prevention and recovery programs throughout the country.

Overall, the report provides promising evidence that high schools across the country are nearing historic graduation levels. These upward trends also pave the way for promising future results, with significant gains to be had by students of racial minority backgrounds.

Encouraging Findings

  • The national on-time graduation rate reached 74.7 percent for the class of 2010.  This level parallels achievement in 1973, and is a nearly 2 percentage-point increase from the class of 2009.  
    • This is the third year of increases following modest declines in 2006 and 2007.
    • Over the past decade, the graduation rate improved by 8 percentage points (66.7 percent in 2000 to 74.7 percent in 2010).
    • Forty-six states have seen increases in their graduation rates over the past decade, with gains ranging from less than a percentage point to almost 32 points.
  • Continued improvements for historically underserved minorities bolster national graduation rate increases from 2009 to 2010.
    • Latinos saw an impressive 5.4 percentage point increase over this period.
    • African-Americans progressed upward by 3.3 percentage points.
  • From 2009 to 2010, the number of states graduating 80 percent or more of high school students rose from 4 to 13.
    • Iowa (83.2), New Jersey (83.1), North Dakota (84), and Wisconsin (83.7) were joined by Connecticut (82.2), Idaho (80), Kansas (80), Maine (80.5), Minnesota (80.4), Missouri (80.7), Pennsylvania (83), Tennessee (80.3), and Vermont (85).
  • Eight states showed increases of at least 5.0 percentage points from 2009-2010.
    • Connecticut (6.2 point increase to 82.2), Delaware (6 point increase to 73.9), Idaho (7.9 point increase to 80), Illinois (6.6 point increase to 77.8 percent), Kentucky (6.7 point increase to 77.2), Maine (8.2 point increase to 80.5), South Dakota (6.8 point increase to 76.3), and Vermont (7.6 point increase to 85).
  • All major ethnic and racial groups have shown overall improvement since 2000.
    • Latinos have produced significant gains of 16.3 percentage points, decreasing the Latino-White graduation gap.
    • African-American graduation rates have improved by 13.2 percentage points, causing a substantial narrowing of the African-American-White gap.
    • Native Americans have increased graduation rates over the decade, but fell by 2 percentage points from 2009 to 2010. This subgroup lags behind other ethnic groups with 51 percent of students graduating in 2010.  
  • An astounding 46 states have demonstrated decade-long growth in graduation rates.
    • Florida, George, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont each boast double-digit increases since 2000.

Findings of Concern

  • Graduation performance varies greatly by state.
    • Less than two-thirds of students earn their diploma in the District of Columbia (57), Georgia (64), Mississippi (64.4), Nevada (62.7), New Mexico (59.4), and South Carolina (61.5).
    • The largest state-level gap exists between the District of Columbia and Vermont, with a 28-percentage point disparity.
  • Male and female students are not graduating at comparable rates.
    • In 2010, 71.9 percent of males graduated compared to 78.4 percent of females.
    • This 6.5 percentage-point gap is a slight improvement on the 6.8 percent variance in 2009 (with 69.6 percent of males and 76.4 percent of females graduating).
  • Minority students are less likely to graduate than their White and Asian peers.
    • There is a 30-percentage-point gap dividing Asian (81.1 percent) and Native American (51.1 percent) students, the groups with the highest and lowest graduation rates, respectively. 
    • Significant graduation gaps exist across racial lines. The gap between Latinos (68.1 percent) and Whites (79.6 percent) is 11.5 percentage-points, while the gap between Black (61.7 percent) and White students is 17.9 percentage points.
  • Three states showed decreases of at least 5.0 percentage points from 2009-2010.
    • Arizona (5.1 point decrease to 67.2), New York (5.1 point decrease to 73.3), and Utah (7.1 point decrease to 71.3) each exhibited significant drop-offs in graduation rates.

For more information on how Education Week and others calculate graduation rates, check out the Center for Public Education’s Straight Story on High School Graduation Rates. Furthermore, check out the Center’s Better Late than Never to learn more about those students who took more than four years to graduate.

This summary was prepared by Christine Duchouquette, Policy Research Intern, and Jim Hull, Senior Policy Analyst for NSBA’s Center for Public Education.






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