Gauging Graduation, Pinpointing Progress
Districts with higher rates offer bright spots.
Some observers have argued that graduation rates—for the nation as a whole, most demographic groups, and the majority of states—are failing to reach a level necessary to put the United States on a solid footing in a competitive global economy. Despite that arguably worrisome state of affairs, the longer-term trajectory of change for the country’s graduation rate does offer some reason to be cautiously optimistic.
From 1996 to 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, the national graduation rate for U.S. public high schools rose by 2.8 percentage points. That gain, averaging about three-tenths of a point annually, signals slow but steady progress over the past decade. In fact, for each of the past six years, the nation’s graduation rate has stayed consistently above the 1996 benchmark level of 66 percent.
The latest original analysis of high school completion conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center places the national graduation rate at 69.2 percent for the class of 2006. The center calculates graduation rates for the nation, states, and every school district in the country using the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) method and data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data (CCD). More information on the CPI methodology can be found on Page...
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