The U.S. high school graduation rate has hit 83 percent, rising to a new high for the fifth year in a row. “We’ve made real progress,” said President Barack Obama at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C.
While 90.2 percent of Asian-American students and 87.6 percent of whites earn a diploma, that falls to 77.8 percent for Latinos and 74.6 percent for blacks.
Iowa has the highest graduation rate at 90.8 percent. Washington D.C., despite rapid improvement, is at the bottom with a 68.5 percent rate.
While graduation rates are rising steadily, there’s no evidence students are better prepared for college or careers, note Anya Kametez and Cory Turner on NPR.
. . . “For many students, a high school diploma is not a passport to opportunity, it’s a ticket to nowhere,” says Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a national nonprofit that’s long advocated for higher standards and graduation requirements.
High school graduation exams often require only eighth- or ninth-grade skills. Some states have dropped the exams.
Just last month, in a major school funding ruling, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher excoriated his state for watered down graduation standards that, he says, have already resulted “in unready children being sent to high school, handed degrees, and left, if they can scrape together the money, to buy basic skills at a community college.”
There are lots of ways to raise graduation rate, an excellent NPR series revealed. Monitoring students’ progress and closing “dropout factories” have helped in some places. In others, schools have fudged the numbers or used dubious “credit recovery” schemes.