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Few States Require Rigorous Courses for Graduation

"How States Got Their Rates"

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High school graduation rates in the United States have hit historic highs, with the most recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Education showing that more than 80 percent of students from the class of 2013 graduated on time.

But a new analysis finds that the level of coursework needed to earn a high school diploma differs from state to state.

And just four states—Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee—and the District of Columbia require students to complete college- and career-ready-level courses in math and English/language arts to graduate, according to the report released earlier this month by the nonprofit Achieve.

The group, which played a key role in launching the Common Core State Standards initiative, looked at 93 diploma options from across the states and the District of Columbia for the class of 2014. All states have adopted college- and career-ready standards, the report notes. (Forty-four states and D.C. are using the common-core standards, while the rest are using state-adopted benchmarks.)

But 20 of those states do not offer a diploma that requires students to complete college- and career-ready-level-courses, the report says. The analysis considers graduation requirements "college- and career-ready-level" if students have to take a course of study aligned to the college- and career-ready standards, including at least three years of math, generally through Algebra 2, and four of "rigorous, grade-level" English.

In 26 states, students can choose from multiple diploma options, including a college- and career-ready path, according to the analysis. And just nine of those states publicly report the percentage of students who graduated with the college- and career-ready coursework.

Vol. 35, Issue 10, Page 5

Published in Print: October 28, 2015, as Few States Require Rigorous Courses for Graduation
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