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AVERAGED FRESHMAN GRADUATION RATE: U.S. Department of Education Reports 73.9 Percent Graduation Rate for 2006-07 School Year

In a report released earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that 73.9 percent of public high school students received a diploma in the 2006-07 school year. These statistics are calculated according to the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR), which uses three years of student enrollment data to estimate percent of students receiving a regular diploma within four years.2 AFGR is not as accurate as an on-time graduation rate calculated from actual data about a specific group of students collected over four years, or the calculation that will be required under new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education in October 2008.3 However, it does allow for comparisons across states and over time, and can be used as a reasonable substitute until all states can calculate the four-year rate.

Among individual states, eighteen states demonstrated a percentage point or greater increase in their AFGR from the previous school year while seven states saw a decrease of one percentage point or more. In the remaining twenty-three states for which there was available data, the change was less than one percentage point in either direction. The rate ranged from a low of 52 percent in Nevada to a high of 88.6 percent in Vermont. Sixteen states had rates of 80 percent or higher while twelve states and the District of Columbia had rates below 70 percent.

Highest and Lowest Graduation Rates by AFGR

State AFGR State AFGR
Vermont 88.6% Nevada 52.0%
Wisconsin 88.5% District of Columbia 54.9%
Iowa 86.5% South Carolina 58.9%
Minnesota 86.5% New Mexico 59.1%
Nebraska 86.3% Louisiana 61.3%

The AFGR was highest for Asian/Pacific Islanders (91.4 percent), followed by whites (80.3 percent), Hispanics (62.3 percent), American Indians (61.3 percent), and African Americans (60.3 percent).

The complete report, which includes a breakdown for all fifty states, is available at

2 For the AFGR, the incoming freshman class size is estimated by summing the enrollment in eight grade in one year, ninth grade for the next year, and tenth grade for the year after, and then dividing by three. The averaging is intended to account for prior year retentions in the ninth grade.

3 In March 2009, the Alliance released Every Student Counts: The Role of Federal Policy in Improving Graduation Rate Accountability, a brief that summarizes these regulations and examines how individual states will be affected by the changes. Both the national brief and the individual state briefs are available at

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