Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why US High School Graduation Rates Are on the Rise

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why US High School Graduation Rates Are on the Rise

Article excerpt

High school graduation rates are rising in most states, according to new data.

Moreover, the traditional graduation gaps between white and minority students are shrinking, according to a report released Monday from the US Department of Education.

Advocates of recent federal testing and polling standardization say the numbers indicate education reforms are working.

"The story here is that, when it comes to graduation rate policy, federal requirements are working," says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national education policy and advocacy organization.

"After years of many different calculations, states have begun using a common, reliable method to determine graduation rates. Armed with data, educators can identify problems, intervene with support, and increase the numbers of students who are earning their diplomas," he told The Christian Science Monitor.

For the 2013-2014 school year, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin had the nation's highest overall graduation rates, with 90.5, 89.7, and 88.6 percent of students finishing high school in four years, respectively. Indiana, Texas, and Iowa had the highest graduation rates for economically disadvantaged students, while Montana, Texas, and Alabama had the highest graduation rates for African-American students.

The overall graduation rate increased from the previous school year in 36 states, with the biggest gains in Delaware, Alabama, and Oregon.

Nationwide, high school graduation rates have been rising for the past decade. Last year, the national graduation rate hit 80 percent for the first time. Some say the US graduation rate is on track to hit 90 percent by 2020.

"It's for me very, very encouraging," US Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Monday. "By all indications, it looks like the nation will take another step in the right direction."

Secretary Duncan and his incoming successor John King, the former New York commissioner of education, say the new Common Core-aligned tests are pushing higher education standards across the board.

The Common Core, a controversial "set of clear college-and- career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics," was assembled between 2009 and 2010 by governors, state officials, working groups of educators, and higher education representatives in 48 states. …

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