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Indicators

Public High School Graduation Rates
(Last Updated: May 2015)

In school year 2011–12, some 3.1 million public high school students, or 81 percent, graduated on time with a regular diploma. Among all public high school students, Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest graduation rate (93 percent), followed by Whites (85 percent), Hispanics (76 percent), and American Indians/Alaska Natives and Blacks (68 percent each).


Figure 1. Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) for public high school students: School years 1990–91 through 2011–12

Figure 1. Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) for public high school students: School years 1990–91 through 2011–12

NOTE: The AFGR provides an estimate of the percentage of high school students who graduate within 4 years of first starting 9th grade. The rate uses aggregate student enrollment data to estimate the size of an incoming freshman class and counts of the number of diplomas awarded 4 years later.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/ Secondary Education," 1990–91 through 2009–10; "State Dropout and Completion Data File," 2005–06 through 2011–12; Public School Graduates and Dropouts From the Common Core of Data, 2007–08 and 2008–09. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 219.10.


This indicator examines the percentage of public high school students who graduate on time with a regular diploma. The indicator uses the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR), which is the number of high school diplomas awarded expressed as a percentage of the estimated freshman class 4 years earlier. In school year 2011–12, the AFGR was 81 percent, and some 3.1 million public high school students graduated on time with a regular diploma. The overall AFGR was higher for the graduating class of 2011–12 than it was for the class of 1990–91 (74 percent). However, from 1990–91 to 1995–96 the graduation rate decreased from 74 to 71 percent. During the period from 1998–99 to 2004–05, the rate steadily increased from 71 to 75 percent. After dropping to 73 percent in 2005–06, the graduation rate increased 8 percentage points to 81 percent in 2011–12.


Figure 2. Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) for public high school students, by race/ethnicity: School year
2011–12

Figure 2. Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) for public high school students, by race/ethnicity: School year 2011–12

NOTE: The AFGR provides an estimate of the percentage of high school students who graduate within 4 years of first starting 9th grade. The rate uses aggregate student enrollment data to estimate the size of an incoming freshman class and counts of the number of diplomas awarded 4 years later. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Includes only graduates whose race/ethnicity was reported.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "NCES Common Core of Data State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File," School Year 2011–12, Preliminary Version 1a. See CCD table at http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/tables/AFGR0812.asp.


The AFGR varied by race/ethnicity in 2011–12. Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest graduation rate (93 percent), followed by Whites (85 percent), Hispanics (76 percent), and American Indians/Alaska Natives and Blacks (68 percent each).


Figure 3. Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) for public high school students, by state: School year 2011–12

Figure 3. Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) for public high school students, by state: School year 2011–12

NOTE: The AFGR provides an estimate of the percentage of high school students who graduate within 4 years of first starting 9th grade. The rate uses aggregate student enrollment data to estimate the size of an incoming freshman class and counts of the number of diplomas awarded 4 years later. Data were imputed for Texas in 2011–12. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "NCES Common Core of Data State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File," School Year 2011–12, Preliminary Version 1a. See CCD table at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014391/tables/table_04.asp.


In school year 2011–12, the AFGR varied by more than 30 percentage points across the states. Nebraska and Vermont had the highest graduation rate, each at 93 percent. Two other states (North Dakota and Wisconsin) also had graduation rates of 90 percent or higher. In contrast, Nevada had the lowest graduation rate, at 60 percent, followed by Mississippi with an AFGR of 68 percent.


Glossary terms: High school diploma, Public school or institution
Data Source: Common Core of Data (CCD)


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education