Report Finds Gaps in High School Graduation Rates for Key Groups

Even as the national high school graduation rate reached 82.3 percent in 2013-14, rates were lower for specific student populations in dozens of states, a data brief from Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University's School of Education shows.

Released in partnership with America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education as part of the GradNation campaign, the report, Building a Grad Nation Data Brief: Overview of 2013-14 High School Graduation Rates (12 pages, PDF), found that while students of color have been key drivers of the increase in the national graduation rate as well as the narrowing of racial/ethnic gaps, graduation rates for Latinos and African Americans were below 70 percent in eleven and seventeen states, and below that mark for low-income students in sixteen states. Nationally, 74.6 percent of low-income students — who account for nearly half of all public school students — graduated on time, compared with 89 percent of non-low-income students, while in nearly half of all states the gap between low-income and non-low-income students was at least 15 percentage points.

The data brief also found that graduation rates for students with disabilities — who make up 13 percent of public school students — were below 70 percent in thirty-three states and below 50 percent in seven; rates for English-language learners were below 70 percent in thirty-five states and below 50 percent in seven; and that ten states — Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington — graduated fewer than 70 percent of all five subgroups.

"These numbers tell a cautionary story of tremendous progress and sobering challenge," said Civic Enterprises CEO John Bridgeland, who co-authored the report. "Yes, we are making national progress, but too many students are being left behind in today's economy. Without a high school diploma, they won't have a chance at the American dream."