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“A VITAL STEP”: High School Graduation Rate Gaps Between White Students and Students of Color Narrow Slightly, According to New Data

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Black and Hispanic students have long graduated from high school at lower rates than their white peers, but new data from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released on March 16 shows that the gaps are beginning to narrow, if only slightly.

Black and Hispanic students have long graduated from high school at lower rates than their white peers, but new data from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released on March 16 shows that the gaps are beginning to narrow, if only slightly. From School Year (SY) 2010–11 to SY 2012–13, the gap between white and black students’ graduation rates decreased from 17 percentage points to 15.9 percentage points. The graduation rate gap between white and Hispanic students decreased from 13 percentage points to 11.4 percentage points during the same time period.

“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities, and students is paying off,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country. While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student—no matter their zip code—for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength.”

As shown in the table below, high school graduation rates for American Indian, black, Hispanic, low-income, and limited English proficiency students all increased at a rate higher than that for white students. With a 4.7 percentage-point increase from SY 2010–11 to SY 2012–13, American Indian students saw the largest increase in graduation rates, followed by Hispanic students with a 4.2 percentage-point increase. The only group to see its graduation rate increase at a rate slower than that of white students was Asian/Pacific Islander students, who already had a graduation rate higher than white students.

Two-Year Change in High School Graduation Rates

Earlier this year, ED announced that the national high school graduation rate for the Class of 2013 was 81 percent—the highest ever recorded. The rate is up from 80 percent for the Class of 2012 and 79 percent for the Class of 2011.

The data released on March 16 also includes a state-by-state breakdown for each of the eight student subgroups listed in the table above. Access all of the subgroup graduation rate data at http://1.usa.gov/1MldPnj.

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.