The nation’s high school graduation rate ticked up for the second year in a row, according to new federal data released Thursday showing that 81 percent of the Class of 2013 graduated within four years.
That’s an increase of one percentage point since 2012 and two percentage points since 2011, making it the highest rate since states began calculating them in a uniform way in 2010.
“We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement, calling the 2013 graduation rate, the latest for which data is available, a “record-setting milestone.”
Duncan released the data the day after a revised version of the federal No Child Left Behind law passed out of the Republican-led House Education Committee on a party-line vote. The bill would give states far more latitude to decide how to hold schools accountable. The Obama administration argues that it would slow academic progress, especially for vulnerable students.
The Education Department did not release graduation rates broken down by race, gender, income and disability, so it’s not clear whether the nation made progress toward closing persistent gaps in graduation rates between subgroups of students. In general, poor children have been less likely to graduate than more-affluent peers, while black and Latino students have been less likely to graduate than white students.
Department officials said they will release subgroup data in several weeks.
State-by-state data shows that Iowa had the highest graduation rate, at 90 percent, and Oregon had the lowest rate, at 69 percent. In the Washington region, Maryland’s graduation rate was 85 percent, up one percentage point from 2012, and Virginia’s was 84 percent, up from 83 percent in 2012. The District, which is included in the data but, as a city, is difficult to compare against states, had a 62 percent graduate rate, up three points since 2012.