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U.S. high school graduation rate sees big minority gains — analysis

A new analysis says that America’s high school graduation rate hit nearly 75 percent in 2010 — the latest year for which data are available — the highest point since 1973. Furthermore, the increase since 2000 has been largely fueled by improvements in the graduation rates for blacks and Hispanics.

The data analysis was conducted by Education Week’s Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, a division of the nonprofit organization that publishes Edweek.

According to the study:

Graduation rates of individual school systems ranged broadly, with, for example, New York City at 54 percent in 2010 while Fairfax County in Virginia was at 85 percent, placing it at the top of the list of the 50 largest school systems in the country. In the greater Washington region, my colleague Lynh Bui reported that Fairfax displaced Montgomery County from the top spot on the list of 50 largest school districts. Graduation rates in Montgomery slipped more than 3 percentage points, from 87 percent in 2009 to 84 percent in 2010, the Edweek report says. Prince William County was also in the top 10, with a 79 percent grad rate for 2010. Washington, D.C., recorded a 57 percent graduation rate.

* The grad rate for 2010 was 74.7, an increase for the third year in a row.

* Hispanic graduation rates jumped 16 points over a decade, hitting 68 percent for the class of 2010. Black graduation rates jumped 13 percentage points over a decade, hitting 62 percent in 2010. Whites saw a 6 percent graduation rate increase over the same period, to 80 percent; Asians, a 5 percent increase, to 81 percent. Native Americans saw a 3 percent rise in graduation rates, to 51 percent.

* The large school systems with the top graduation rates are: Fairfax County, Va., 85 percent; Baltimore County and Montgomery County, Md., both 84 percent; Jefferson County, Colo., 83 percent; Northside, Tex., 82 percent; Broward County, Fla., 80 percent.

*The largest school systems with the lowest graduation rates are Detroit, 46 percent; Denver, 50 percent; Albuquerque, N.M., 51 percent; Los Angeles, 52 percent; and Milwaukee and New York City, both 54 percent.

*One million student are expected to drop out this year without a degree, which amounts to one student every 31 seconds.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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