Which State Does the Worst Job of Graduating Students From High School?
For the first time since the nation’s governors agreed to use the same formula to calculate high school graduation rates, the U.S. Department of Education has published state-by-state figures that allow apples-to-apples comparisons of student achievement.
The data are for the 2010-11 academic year and show Iowa with the nation’s highest graduation rate of 88 percent. Nevada finished last among the states at 62 percent. (The U.S. average graduation rate has not yet been released because several states still have to be reported.)
As Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog points out, the new report shows considerably wide achievement gaps among minority and economically disadvantaged students when compared with their more affluent white peers. In Michigan, for example, the graduation rate for black students was 57 percent, compared with 80 percent for white students.
The new formula for calculating graduation rates is straightforward: States report the percentage of first-time ninth graders who earn a diploma within four years. Students who receive adjusted diplomas (typically an option for students with disabilities) or GEDs are not counted. The new graduation rate formula is the result of a nationwide initiative that dates back to 2005, when the governors of all 50 states signed a compact agreeing to adopt the new formula by this year. (The District of Columbia also agreed to participate.)