The Washington Post

For the first time, the U.S. high school graduation rate tops 80 percent, report finds

Low-income student graduation rates are below 80 percent in 41 states. Graduation rates for all other students are below 80 percent in just seven states. (America’s Promise Alliance)

For the first time in U.S. history, the national high school graduation rate surpassed 80 percent in 2012, according to a new report.

If the rate of improvement over the past few years is maintained, the country would see a 90 percent rate by 2020, meeting the goal set by America’s Promise Alliance, the group founded by former secretary of state Colin Powell that produced the report with other organizations.

The national rate has risen an average 1.3 percentage points annually since 2006. Hispanic students have seen graduation rates grow 15 percentage points since then, while graduation rates for African Americans rose nine percentage points. Still, they lag behind their white counterparts. Whites have an 85 percent graduation rate, compared to 76 percent for Hispanics and 68 percent for blacks.

National graduation rate. (America’s Promise Alliance)

In most states, reaching that 90 percent goal means focusing on improvements among low-income students and those with disabilities, the report finds.

The group makes a handful of state policy recommendations, including encouraging college- and career-readiness. For example, they argue that other states should look to a Texas policy that gives districts financial incentives to recover dropouts. Low-income students in Texas and Indiana graduate at a rate of 85 percent, higher than anywhere else in the nation. Just six states can boast low-income graduation rates at or above 80 percent.

As the animation at the top of this post shows, low-income student graduation rates are below 80 percent in 41 states. Graduation rates for all other students are below 80 percent in just seven states. Fourteen states have already reached 90 percent graduation rates for the middle- and high-income students. Ten more are very close. Improvements in California will be critical to reaching the national goal, too, the report finds. The Golden State is home to 14 percent of American students and exactly one in five low-income students.

Graduation rate by income in California. (America’s Promise Alliance)
Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Play Video
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.