High School Graduation Rate at Highest Level in Three Decades

A new report from the Department of Education shows that high school graduation rates are at their highest level since 1974. According to the report, during the 2009-10 school year, 78.2 percent of high school students nationwide graduated on time, which is a substantial increase from the 73.4 percent recorded in 2005-6. The report shows that graduation rates were up for all ethnic groups in 2010, and that the rate for Hispanic students has jumped almost 10 points since 2006. 

US map of graduation rates

The report, from ED’s National Center for Education Statistics, also provides state-by-state data on high school dropouts. While the nation’s overall dropout rate is declining, Secretary Arne Duncan noted yesterday that the dropout rate is still “unsustainably high for a knowledge-based economy and still unacceptably high in our African-American, Latino, and Native-American communities.” 

Graph of dropout rates by race/ethnicity

Click here to read the entire report, including data per state, race/ethnicity and gender.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education 

23 Comments

  1. I am a 37 years old,and work in residential construction. I worked every field frm roofing to custom cabinetry. I dropped out of highschool my senior year for many years I struggled but my experience soon paid off now I make over 80k. Sometimes I am baffled on how I made it here but if look back my job experience has been like college. I have far more on the field experience than many of my coworkers plus I have a much closer relationship with my subs. I think life prepares you for what you are ready to accept. At this point I wouldn’t change the path I’ve taken

  2. The graduation rate may be higher in some areas, but many of these graduating students cannot read or write. Data can be deceiving.

    • You should be pleased to know that our wonderful government has already realized this; they have recently implemented new standards for mathematics, and language arts. The new standards focus more on processes and procedures that students will actually use, rather than just filling their heads with a plethora of knowledge and facts. They are also redoing the standards for science.

      • I would not use wonderful, and government in the same sentence. i also believe we need to stop raising the bar and start thinking about running schools completely differently.

  3. To be able to combat economic difficulties which has plunged some students into dropouts and insufficient salaries for teachers, there must be stabilized measures to fimancing the Education Sector.Thank you.

  4. You state that the graduation rate is on time and shows significant progress since 1974-1975. Inclusive of minorities this is tremendous! But, what about those
    students who live in the most impoverished conditions? Poor or minority students
    who reside in public housing. What is the graduation rate like. Also, in comparison
    with low-income students who graduate from private or charter schools what are
    the outcomes like? I’m looking for a measure across the board. Does any such instrument exist? Thank You

  5. Exciting to see that our high school completion rate is improving! I could just imagine how much better it could be if there was more funding for the “Dropout Prevention Act”. The truth is low-income, high-minority communities need a lot more funding for programs that will help provide additional attention for at-risk students.

  6. You state that the graduation rate is on time and shows significant progress since 1974-1975. Inclusive of minorities this is tremendous! But, what about those
    students who live in the most impoverished conditions? Poor or minority students
    who reside in public housing. What is the graduation rate like. Also, in comparison
    with low-income students who graduate from private or charter schools what are
    the outcomes like? I’m looking for a measure across the board. Does any such instrument exist? Thank You.

  7. I am glad that Duncan did comment to the fact that although the national average is improving that in certain communities the dropout rate is still exceedingly high. As a teacher in a low-income community, it is sad to know youth who have dropped out of school and are now struggling in getting jobs and trying to figure out what they are going to do to support themselves without the base of education to help them. For a society who is so focused on getting an education, we don’t do enough to help our children succeed.

    • I think we also need to address education of parents…at my rural school in Hawaii we often have parents that keep their older children home to help take care of siblings or elderly family members. Parents also don’t value higher education and are uncooperative in helping students complete their FAFSAs despite offering parent nights, visiting homes and outreaching through community events, churches, and newspapers…very frustrating.

  8. this chart does not show all the reasons for drop out rates. it does not state that many schools fail to identify or evaluate children who needs special services or whom have learning disabilities or head injuries which are also not addressed at school level as they should be leaving many kids left behind and destined for failure at high drop out rates. schools typically label the kids who are behind problem children with behavior disorders and bully them til they just go away rather than assist each student in identifying their needs and treating education based on those needs in a positive learning environment.

  9. Congratulations to Vermont students, teachers and the strong communities that support them! We have the highest graduation rate in the nation at 91.4%. Note that we have no charter schools, no NCLB waiver and no Race-to-the-Top funds.

    • Good for you Vermont. How does your student population compare with the rest of the nation? Percent free/reduced lunch, minority, public housing, parent’s education levels, etc.

  10. This is great news! Hope the education sector continues to improve. – Eric Schiffer, Science Education Outreach Program (SEOP) volunteer teacher

  11. What is the graduation rate that includes those who do not graduate “on time,” who take longer than four years and/or get GEDs?

    • Students not graduating in their graduating year are labeled dropout. Any student that earns a GED is also counted against you as a dropout.

    • Good point. If the graduation rate includes those who graduate in August, those who take five or six years, and those with a GED, it is 90%–perhaps even higher with the new data.

  12. Wouldn’t a map showing the average senior graduation rate be more informative and useful than one showing the average freshman graduation rate?

    • If they only used the seniors who graduate, they would completely ignore all the students who fall by the wayside in 9th, 10th and 11th grade. If you want to fix the high school graduation rate, you must analyze the entire problem.

      • Cameron I am very disapointed that Maryland is Light Green I am deeply offended and I want to POINT out that you made a mistake and it is LIGHT GREEN.

        Sincerely, a guy who thinks that mindless coments on simple mistakes are stupid, and Cameron thank you for posting this article.

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