January 2016: Building a Grad Nation


The Building a Grad Nation Data Brief highlights state high school graduation rate trends, with a focus on the graduation rates for key groups of students. For the first time, the Data Brief includes 50 state reports detailing graduation rate progress. A precursor to the annual Building a Grad Nation Report, the Data Brief is co-authored by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Release Date: 01/21/16



Continuing a nearly decade-long upward trend, the nation’s on-time high school graduation rate hit a record high of 82.3 percent for the Class of 2014. This is a tremendous milestone.

But two issues mar the achievement. First, for the first time in four years, the nation is not on track to reach its goal of a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2020. The rate needs to increase by 1.3 percentage points to remain on track; this year’s increase was .9 percentage points.

Second, in spite of significant increases for some groups, the nation continues to suffer from severe gaps in graduation rates affecting students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities and English-language learners.

  • 33 states graduate less than 70 percent of their students with disabilities; seven of those states graduate less than 50 percent of students with disabilities.
  • 11 states graduate less than 70 percent of Hispanic/Latino students.
  • 17 states graduate less than 70 percent of African American students.
  • 16 states graduate less than 70 percent of low-income students. In those states, researchers estimate that nearly 191,000 low-income students did not graduate on time with a regular diploma.
  • 35 states graduate less than 70 percent of English-language learners; seven of those states have ELL graduation rates under 50 percent.
  • 10 states graduate less than 70 percent of all five subgroups. They are Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington.

The Data Brief keeps pace with the release of graduation rate data by the National Center for Education Statistics and lays a foundation for the more comprehensive analysis in the annual Building a Grad Nation Report to be published in spring 2016.




For the third year in a row, the nation achieved a record-breaking high school graduation rate, ensuring more students than ever before earned a diploma. As it becomes more difficult to earn a meaningful living with less than a high school diploma, getting students to graduation becomes all the more important, and we must honor the hard work being done by educators, parents, community members, and many others to set students on a path to success. However, now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Though progress has been great, many challenges still remain. The nation has fallen off track to reaching the GradNation goal and huge graduation rate gaps still exist for many. If we are to meet our nation’s greatest ideals, we cannot be satisfied with graduating only the easiest to reach students and much work lies ahead to ensure opportunity exists for every student. The full 2016 Building a Grad Nation Annual Update will focus on what it will take to reach a 90 percent high school graduation rate goal by 2020 for all students. The wealth of data available over the past decade through enhanced graduation rate definitions and data collection promoted by governors and the federal government will be used to further examine the state, district, and student subgroup trends underlying the national picture. The report will illuminate the areas of greatest challenge, and consider where efforts must be focused to make the most progress for students, our communities, states, and the nation. America has made great strides in addressing the dropout challenge, but renewed efforts must be made so that every student graduates ready for the challenges of college, career, and civic life.

SOURCE: GradNation

Retrieved on January 22, 2016

SOURCE LOCATION: Grad Nation Data Brief

For more information, visit GradNation.org

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