U.S. high school graduation rates climb again

The nation’s public high school graduation rate hit its highest level in 40 years, according to the latest version of an annual report from the magazine Education Week.

The magazine’s annual study of graduation rates, Diploma Count, reported that 74.7 of students in the United States graduated with a high school diploma in 2010, the most recent year for which full data is available.

The rate ticked up 2 percentage points from 2009. Forty-six of 50 states (and Washington D.C.) increased their graduation rate from 2009. Vermont has the highest graduation rate at 85 percent, while Washington D.C. is the jurisdiction with the lowest rate at 57 percent.

In 2010, Texas had a graduation rate of 74.8 percent, slightly above the national average and 27th overall.

The latest results continue a decade-long trend in the increase in graduation rates, improving 8 percentage points over 1999-200 in which 66.8 percent of Americans graduated from high school.

White and Asian children still have the highest graduation rates at over 80 percent. However, African American and Latino students have been steadily closing the graduation gap. In 2010, 68 percent of Latinos and 62 percent of African American students graduated, up 16 and 13 points from the groups’ respective 1999 figures. Those increases outstrip the general population’s increase of 8 percentage points.

High school graduation rates have steadily risen over the last decade both in Texas and the rest of the country.

High school graduation rates have steadily risen over the last decade both in Texas and the rest of the country.

Education Week calculated graduation rates using a methodology called the Cumulative Promotion Index, developed by scholars at the Urban Institute in 2005. The method takes into account the number of students dropping out in each year of high school, and only counts students earning standard diplomas (not General Equivalency Degrees) as graduates. A detailed description of the CPI can be found here.

The Education Week trend matches an earlier report from the National Center for Education Statistics, which, using slightly different methodology, found that 78.2 percent of students graduated from high school. That number is a 4.8-point from 2006, when 73.4 percent graduated. The NCES number is the highest graduation rates have been since 1974.

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