November 28th, 2012
01:30 PM ET

National graduation rates released

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released a report of state high school graduation rates, which for the first time includes apples-to-apples comparisons among most states. Each state used to determine its own graduation rate; now states are moving toward a common method of measurement.

As Schools of Thought reported earlier, graduation rates for some states have dropped not because students are failing more often, but because the math has changed. The USDOE points this out in a press release on its website: "While 26 states reported lower graduation rates and 24 states reported unchanged or increased rates under the new metric, these changes should not be viewed as measures of progress but rather as a more accurate snapshot." The new data is based on a "four year cohort graduation rate," which also accounts for students who drop out or do not earn a regular high school diploma.

Read "The new graduation rates" for an explanation of these metrics.

In the video, Brooke Baldwin examines the states with the highest and lowest gradation rates. Across the United States, the range of state graduation rates is between Nevada's 62% and Iowa's 88%. The District of Columbia's rate is lower than that of any state, at 59%. Some states, including Kentucky and Idaho, are not using the new method and were not included in the data released by USDOE.

Looking at the data itself another picture emerges – a gap between whites and blacks still exists, but an even wider gap persists between general graduation rates and the graduation rates of children with disabilities and limited English proficiency students. For these subgroups, graduation rates in many states are below 50%, and sometimes even below 30%.

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Filed under: Graduation • High school • Policy • video
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. wchalmers

    One thing that needs to be made clear when comparing apples and, well, cabbage....when schools look at graduation rate data (based on the traditional typical four year education = diploma), keep in mind that NCLB which established this piece of criteria is in direct conflict with IDEA which governs what is best for students with disabilities and what we, in special education, should be doing to help students who have disabilities transition to adult life. Any student who has a disability has the right to stay in school until they are 21. This is especially beneficial to students who need extra time to gain employability or independent living skills before transitioning to their post-school outcomes. Schools are therefore faced with a dilemna....risk missing AYP because of Graduation rates or do what's right and best for the student by allowing the student to remain in school beyond the four years that are typical to earn a high school diploma so that he/she is more prepared for transitioning into adult, post-school life? With all data, it's left to interpretation and often needs clarification to get the "whole" picture!

    December 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  2. Dagobert II

    There appears to be little, if any, correlation between the amount spent per student and the graduation rates. We need to do whatever the states with high rates of graduation and low rates of expenditure are doing.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  3. harry ballzonia

    These are the same youth that elected Obama. Now it all makes sense

    November 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • chris

      You are obviously ignorant. When budget cuts occur, education is always cut, not national defense. Of course, the graduation rates are going to decrease. Republicans want to cut education and increase national defense. Obama wants to invest in education. Children with no education will become like you: preassumptuous, misinformed and an ignorant idiot.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:23 am |
      • chris

        Also, this is high school graduation rates idiot. The majority of the kids are under 18 and therefore can't vote. Know your stuff before you say something stupid.

        November 30, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Realist

      Youre mistaken dude. Adults elected President Obama, these are the grades of high school students. Not to mention the fact that Romney simply wasn't the best candidate You have four more years to be upset about the president of our country.. have fun with that.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  4. dennis

    Back in the early 60s, girls who did not graduate HS were largely girls who got pregnant. Boys who did not finish HS were largely those who had some significant issues with the legal system. (I don't have actual numbers, but thinkit was about 10 % of girls and 20% of boys in the small midwestern rural school I attended.) I wonder how much things have changed? I know in the almost 100% white suburban NJ school my sons attended, failure to graduate was quite rare and nearly all students passed comprehensive tests at grade level. I know that is not the case for inner city schools in NJ. Teachers are paid the same in suburban and inner city schools, it is widely held that teaching in surburban schools easier, even though parents actually show up to complain from time-to-time. There is a big problem, but I am not sure it is a problem the schools can solve, as far as I can see there is a real disparity between kids from even moderately financially comfortable families and those who struggle to make ends meet.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  5. Dee

    I wonder if the graduation rate was based on 9-12 or just beginning of the 12 year to end? I also applaud those who can educate from home. Not all can. I also see children who are educated at home that have little interactions with those of other cultures. Little blond hair-blue eyed children spend so much time at home, they go out in public and stare at others like they're pictures in a museum. That's just weird!

    November 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • jomartin

      The four year cohort method looks at a class of ninth graders and looks at how many of them graduate on time. here's a link to the article that explains a lot of that:
      John, CNN

      November 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  6. Jon

    The four-year graduate rate is extremely misleading. There are many people who go to college on a part time basis, because they have to work simultaneously, and consequently they take more than four years. Allowing this option is a GOOD thing, and important for society, but it makes a university's "four year graduate rate" look worse. Always beware of judging by a single number.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • dennis

      Jon, What has that got to do withHigh School Graduation rates?

      November 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  7. global mom

    PS. From our area, they have tested 8th graders, sadly, most read at a 3rd grade level. This is not a race issue, this is a family unit issue! We CANNOT allow our kids to start next grade level until they have master the grade they are in. The problems start in the lower grades, then they drop out in high school, because they did not get the basic skills to build higher ED. FAMILIES must make sure they do, and if they don*t, go buy workbooks and do them with your kids during summer breaks. Teaches/schools anywhere do not have enough time to get every kid up to par for the next year, family units can, it*s a family issue, not a race issue, every brain can learn the basic skills, when someone in the family unit pays attention to the youngster. Make sure they can READ. WE must pay attention to our KIDS . The degrees don*t make men/women... The men/women makes the degrees. Watch the movie WITH your kids GIFTED HANDS, N0 EXCUSES, make your family*s EDUCATION #1. Education is a per family unit issue.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • jcap

      Just because some people can homeschool doesn't mean they all should. While I applaud people who have enough financial means to homeschool their children without government assistance, I for one, could not do it. As a mom of 5 and the sole income of my family, I do not have the luxury of making all of my children wait until I get home from work to start their school day. It is my believe that graduation rates also indicate a work ethic for each student. But what they gain even more from the school environment are the social skills so desparately needed in today's workforce and society. Intelligence aside, I believe the graduation rates reflect not only familial issues but also work ethic. There are people in lower income areas who rise above the stereotype of society to become wonderfully successful – and they didn't have the opportunity of homeschool. Fantastic that you are able to do this for YOUR children. For those of us who are unable to do so, kindly reserve your judgement that love means you homeschool. Participation in a child's life, not homeschool, is the answer to today's educational slump.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
      • Guest

        Dont have 5 kids w/o the financial ability then....

        November 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • sophia

      Research shows that holding kids back grade levels does not actually improve their scores. That idea is very antiquated. Schools don't promote kids or hold them back anymore (in elementary) based on knowledge or achievement. The only reason schools hold kids back is for social/maturity issues.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  8. Oakspar77777

    Graduation rates are a false statistic. If you want to know how well highschools are doing, look at the college completion rates of students from that school (which will show you not only what percentage of students at that school are going to college, but are going and being sucessful).

    November 29, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  9. global mom

    Let*s start taking our freedom to educate to heart...California has ranked in the bottom of American ED for years, even with our trillons we spend on Ed, more than most countrys have! So, we made sure ourselves that our kids came 1st, and home educated them with the best books we could order and lovingly, for years made their EDUCATION top of our life list!!! Costing a 10th of the cost of what CA spends per kid! They went on to America*s awesome schools for higher ed, for example, our son has 2 masters degrees, finishing his doctorate now. We have all been blessed w/ choice, so take less stuff that never will last and put everything into your precious kids and years later they will see the love of putting them 1st. It is up to each family unit to not lower the education bar...but to lift their young ones up and beyond the bar! While Ca Ed is at an all time low and if U like to teach, even just pre school to 4th or 5th grade, U will have taught the basics and made memories to gather roses in winter. GO 4 IT!

    November 29, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Trololo

      thank god everyone's rich and get can get financial aid

      November 29, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  10. Mary Brenner

    Why hasn't this story reached the Washington Post?
    Has anyone conducted a post drop-out long term follow-up survey?
    If such large percentages of children leave school, what is school NOT providing them?

    November 29, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I know several recent graduates of public high schools in NYC and its suburbs. They represent varied ethnic backgrounds: black, white, and others. They have 4.0 averages and received full scholarships to Harvard, Yale, and other fine schools.
    They are separated from other students from their high schools by ambition and a drive to excel. None of these winners tries to "fit in" with his classmates, or expects his teachers to "give him an education."
    They work and learn, regardless of the teacher.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  12. juggalosoldier

    I think, for the most time. Its whats going on in kids lifes today. Think about all the teen prego's are there. Alot get knocked up and just quit. Or guys fail cuz they lack the will to continue on.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  13. Gegg Wahl

    Ken is right. Asians have proven that a habit of study and doing the required work is all that is required. All of the blame needs to be on the kids for their actions. In the internet age, there is near-limitless information available. Blame each child for failing, congratulate each child for graduating. It's their boat to row, their responsibility to accomplish or ignore. The system works for the student who works. Just ask the asian-Americans.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Grey

      Yeah... it's sure not the parents fault, or the lack of discipline by both them and the schools that could be at fault. Especially those 7 and 8year olds. They're hellions.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:54 am |
      • Patrick

        Blame the parents more then the schools. In today's schools have no teeth to do anything to unruly kids. Parent sue if their unruly child is in any way punished. In mu sister's school there is a lawsuit for an unruly child being sent to the principals office and told to read. Many parents see school as free daycare for their kids. Schools are a place to learn math, science, history,etc. Not a place to learn how to be human beings. Somethings are suppose to be taught at home. Some parents do get this. Many do not.

        November 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  14. victoria domino

    ok well listen to this. When i was in school our history class spent alot of time on the football field because we had a football coach teaching history class. Now is that the childs fault or the school system fault. This was at curry high school. That is lack of money for the schools. Hummmm makes a person think ..... And some people wonder why some schools in the north like washington score better on test than the south.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:56 am |
  15. Dick

    The incompetents' major!!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • dmantx

      wow......i guess you home school then sense I am too incompetent. Especially since I have received state and national recognition through student performance. Generalizations are not applicable ever. Especially when you consider some of us majored in education coming from a poor family background with the main intent of going into education to replace those unqualified people – yes they do exist and I admit it, I had them growing up- I chose to make a difference not get paid lots of money. My choice. Now lift the veil of ignorance and think about the fact that you should want your best and brightest to be educating the future.

      November 29, 2012 at 8:00 am |
      • Disbelief

        I hope your writing isn't an example of the "best and brightest". Try using capitalization, "since" instead of sense, complete sentences instead of fragments...etc. Sadly, you just re-affirmed Dick Smegma's comments by your post. The fact that you write so poorly and that you have received state and national recognition highlights just how sadly defunct our educational system has become.

        November 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  16. Amir Ali

    Check the haloweens in schools and working places they filled the place of girls and original ppls never get breaths n mentally situtation will increase..

    November 29, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • sophia


      November 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  17. Amir Ali

    Education in pakistan is damaged by indian migrant hows they changed their certificates and continue education in pakistan specially khi its MQM n population..

    November 29, 2012 at 5:12 am |
  18. USA

    We need good education teachers.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:26 am |
  19. Digger

    One thing that really surprised me back in Texas was how many drop outs were girls.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:53 am |
  20. ken

    Asians do well so it seens to have more to do with culture and determination than tge ststem itself. Some cultures are just not as focused amd tbey have to stop believing they are victims; they are responsible for their own woes.

    November 29, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  21. Peggy

    Really we need an article informing us about how STUPID the United State has become. It is clear to me that with the way our youth act and interact with othes that they have not the ability to utilize the education that has been provided to them. Since gen ed is free and they dont want to learn keep only the ones in school that want a 4 yr education and let the others get their GEDs. Each group will have their day.

    November 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm |