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High school graduation rates

Question:
What information do you have on public high school graduation rates?

Response:

This Fast Fact examines the percentage of U.S. public high school students who graduate on time, as measured by the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR). In this Fast Fact, the United States includes public schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, except for the Bureau of Indian Education schools. State education agencies calculate the ACGR by identifying the "cohort" of first-time 9th-graders in a particular school year. The cohort is then adjusted by adding any students who transfer into the cohort after 9th grade and subtracting any students who transfer out, emigrate to another country, or die. The ACGR is the percentage of students in this adjusted cohort who graduate within 4 years with a regular high school diploma. The U.S. Department of Education first collected the ACGR in 2010–11.

The U.S. average ACGR for public high school students increased over the first 7 years it was collected, from 79 percent in 2010–11 to 85 percent in 2016–17. In 2016–17, the ACGR ranged from 71 percent in New Mexico to 91 percent in Iowa. More than three-quarters of states (40) reported ACGRs from 80 percent to less than 90 percent.1


Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by state: 2016–17

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

NOTE: The ACGR is the percentage of public high school freshmen who graduate with a regular diploma within 4 years of starting ninth grade. The Bureau of Indian Education and Puerto Rico are not included in the U.S. average ACGR. The graduation rates displayed above have been rounded to whole numbers. Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages.


In 2016–17, the ACGRs for American Indian/Alaska Native (72 percent), Black (78 percent), and Hispanic (80 percent) public high school students were below the U.S. average of 85 percent. The ACGRs for White (89 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islander2 (91 percent) students were above the U.S. average. Across states, the ACGRs for White students ranged from 76 percent in New Mexico to 95 percent in New Jersey, and were higher than the U.S. average ACGR of 85 percent in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The rates for Black students ranged from 65 percent in Minnesota to 87 percent in West Virginia. Alabama, Maryland, Texas, and West Virginia were the only four states in which the rates for Black students were higher than the U.S. average ACGR. The ACGRs for Hispanic students ranged from 66 percent in Minnesota to 92 percent in West Virginia, and they were higher than the U.S. average ACGR in six states (Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia). For Asian/Pacific Islander students, ACGRs ranged from 78 percent in the District of Columbia to 95 percent or higher in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, and West Virginia, and they were higher than the U.S. average ACGR in 43 states. The ACGRs for American Indian/Alaska Native students ranged from 50 percent in South Dakota to 92 percent in New Jersey, and were higher than the U.S. average ACGR in six states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas).3


1 Based on unrounded graduation rates.

2 Reporting practices for data on Asian and Pacific Islander students vary by state. Asian/Pacific Islander data in this Fast Fact represent either the value reported by the state for the “Asian/Pacific Islander” group or an aggregation of separate values reported by the state for “Asian” and “Pacific Islander.” “Pacific Islander” includes the “Filipino” group, which only California reports separately.

3 Discussion of ACGRs for American Indian/Alaska Native students excludes data for Alabama, the District of Columbia, Vermont, and West Virginia. The American Indian/Alaska Native data for the District of Columbia and Vermont are suppressed to protect student privacy and are unavailable for Alabama. The ACGR for American Indian/Alaska Native students in West Virginia is greater than or equal to 80 percent. To protect student privacy, the exact value is not displayed.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). The Condition of Education 2019 (NCES 2019-144), Public High School Graduation Rates.

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