Nation Sees Graduation Rate Increase But Challenges Remain

May 23, 2014 | 9:26 pm
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graduation13For the first time in the history of the country the high school graduation rate in the United States has topped 80%. Driven by sharp increases in the graduation rates of African-American and Hispanic students, authorities are optimistic that, if current gains continue, by 2020 the United States could see a graduation rate of 90%.

Over the past several years state officials, working with the federal government, have focused on increasing the nation’s high school graduation rate by giving African American and Hispanic students much needed attention. Not all of the measures, however, have been popular. For example, hundreds of urban schools, called “dropout factories” by their detractors, have been closed as a part of the effort. The outcome of the measures has been an estimated 1.7 million students receiving their diplomas over the past decade who would not have if the nation’s graduation rates had remained at 2002 levels.

Officials celebrated the news, while cautioning that much work continues to lie ahead. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that he believed that the nation can push past 80%, and that high school graduates should focus on attaining further education in order to be competitive global economy. He also said that despite the cause for excitement, numerous hurdles remain.

Low income students continued to struggle in certain parts of the country. For example, in Minnesota 87% of wealthier students graduate from high school, while just 59% of low income students graduate. In Connecticut, a state which has seen a 6% jump in graduation rates among low income students, the increase resulted in a 70% graduation rate among low income students, compared with a 94% graduation rate among middle and upper class students.

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