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Graduation Gaps Are Narrowing—But Persistent

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Graduation rates for historically disadvantaged groups of students—including low-income students, ethnic and racial minorities, and English-language learners—have increased by at least 3 percentage points each over the past two years, according to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

In fact, the rates for those student groups are improving faster than the overall graduation rate, which stood at 81.4 percent in 2012-13, a 2.4 percent improvement over the 2010-11 school year. The 2012-13 school year is the most recent with available data.

But don't pop the champagne corks yet: Although the gap between the percentages of black and Hispanic students and white students graduating from high school has narrowed, it's still persistent.

The graduation rate for black students inthe 2012-13 school year reached 70.7 percent, a 3.7 increase since 2010-11. And the rate for Hispanic students hit 75.2 percent, a 4.2 percent increase since 2010-11. But white students and Asian/Pacific Islander students are still outperforming both of those groups, with graduation rates of 86.6 and 88.7 percent, respectively. And while American Indian students had the biggest two-year jump of any minority group, going from a 65 percent graduation rate in 2010-11 to 69.7 percent in 2012-13, they still had the lowest graduation rate of any minority group.

What's more, although graduation rates for English-language learners and students in special education have improved by 4.1 and 2.9 percentage points respectively, they're still lower than the graduation rates for white and Asian students, as well as for black, Hispanic, and American Indian students more generally. Just 61.1 percent of English-learners earned a diploma in 2012-13, compared with 61.9 percent of students with disabilities.

Vol. 34, Issue 25, Page 5

Published in Print: March 25, 2015, as Graduation Gaps Are Narrowing—But Persistent
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