Equity & Diversity

Rural States Post High Grad Rates, Native Rates Stagnant

By Jackie Mader — December 16, 2015 1 min read
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States with large percentages of rural students have some of the highest graduation rates in the nation, although rates for American Indian and Alaska Native students failed to improve, according to data released this week by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The data show that the four-year graduation rate increased for the nation, from 81.4 percent in the 2012-13 school year to 82.3 percent during the 2013-14 school year.

The 10 states with the largest populations of rural students had some of the highest graduation rates in the nation. In Vermont, where nearly 58 percent of students come from rural areas, 87.8 percent of students graduated in four years. In Maine, where more than 57 percent of students are rural, the four-year graduation rate was 86.5 percent. Mississippi lagged behind, with a graduation rate of 77.6 percent, but that rate represents a two-percentage-point increase from the 2012-13 school year.

Nationwide, the four-year graduation rate for American Indian and Alaska Native students remained nearly stagnant, at 69.6 percent, although since the 2010-11 school year, that rate has increased by 4.6 percentage points, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In Oregon, only 53.6 percent of Native students graduated in four years, far lower than the state average of 72 percent. Oregon has struggled with chronic absenteeism among Native students and those students are also less likely than their Asian, black, and white peers to enroll in postsecondary education. Wyoming has also struggled with Native absenteeism rates, and had less than 50 percent of its Native students graduate in four years, compared to the statewide average of 78.6 percent.

The new Every Student Succeeds Act, which has replaced No Child Left Behind, will establish programs to address high Native dropout rates according to Arizona Public Radio. The Obama Administration has taken steps in recent years to improve education for Native students, including providing grants to tribal communities to help students become college-ready, combat high suicide rates, and take more control over tribal schools.

Check out the four-year graduation rate for your state broken down by race and ethnicity here.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.