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“PROUD AND SOBERING MOMENT”: National High School Graduation Rate Hits Another All-Time High as Rate of Improvement Slows

The national high school graduation rate rose to 82.3 percent for School Year (SY) 2013–14 school year—a new record and an increase from the 81.4 percent rate posted in SY 2012–13—according to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on December 15.

Among groups of students, Asian/Pacific Islander students (89.4 percent) posted the highest graduation rate, followed by white (87.2 percent), Hispanic (76.3 percent), black (72.5 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native students (69.6 percent). The data also includes graduation rates for economically disadvantaged students (74.6 percent), students with disabilities (63.1 percent), and limited English proficient students (62.6 percent).

“The hard work of teachers, administrators, students, and their families has made these gains possible and, as a result, many more students will have a better chance of going to college, getting a good job, owning their own home, and supporting a family,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains, including for students of color.”

States High School Graduation Rates GraphA U.S. Department of Education blog post announcing the results noted that the U.S. graduation rate gap between white students and black and Hispanic students “continues to narrow, and traditionally underserved populations like English language learners and students with disabilities continue to make gains.” Among some states, however, graduation rate gaps remain very large—as much as 20 percentage points or more in some states. Additionally, an Alliance for Excellent Education analysis has found that, over the past four years, the gap in high school graduation rates between Latino and white students grew in nine states while the gap between African American and white students grew in ten states.

Four organizations leading the GradNation campaign to raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020—the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education—issued a joint statement, calling the data a “proud and sobering moment,” noting that, for the first time in four years, the nation is not on track to reach a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020. Additionally, while recognizing that there have been some “significant gains for key subgroups,” the groups note that the nation “continues to suffer from gaps in graduation rates affecting students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities and English language learners.”

“These are reminders that our work is not finished, that the last leg of this campaign will be very challenging, and that we must redouble efforts to reach our goal,” the statement said. “We have seen that with hard work, big change is possible. But with only a few years to go in the campaign, every organization, community, business, school and individual must get involved so more young people will have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Let’s use this moment as a reminder of the inequities that remain before us and keep our eyes on the prize of ensuring every student graduates from high school.”

National, state, and graduation rate data for different groups of students is available from NCES at


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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.