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Stat of the Week — Aug. 16, 2006

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Graduation Rates for the Nation's Four Largest Districts

As school systems across the nation combat low graduation rates, how do our largest school districts stack up against their states and the nation as a whole? In Diplomas Count the EPE Research Center found that the four largest school districts in the United States: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami-Dade County respectively, also have some of the lowest graduation rates* in the country. Among the 50 school systems with the largest student populations, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami-Dade County have the third, sixth, seventeenth, and seventh lowest graduation rates, respectively.

The graduation rates for the four largest districts are substantially lower than the national average of 69.6 percent. For example, the most dramatic contrast exists for New York City, which graduates 38.9 percent of its ninth graders, nearly 31 percentage points below the national average. Of the four districts, Chicago’s graduation rate of 52.2 percent is closest to the national rate, but it still lags behind by over 17 percentage points.

Graduation rates for these districts are also far lower than their respective state averages. The largest gap between state and district rates can be seen in Los Angeles, which trails California’s statewide rate of 71.0 percent by 26.8 percentage points. The smallest gap can be seen in Miami-Dade, which has a graduation rate that is 12.2 percent lower than Florida’s average of 57.5 percent, the lowest graduation rate of the four states and well below the national average.

*Graduation rates were calculated using EPE Research Center Director Christopher B. Swanson’s Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) and are based on data from 2002-03, the most recent year available.

For more graduation rate data please click on one of the following links:
Full Diplomas Count Report
State and District Patterns Table (PDF)
How the EPE Research Center calculates graduation rates

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