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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education

Public High School Graduation Rates

(Last Updated: May 2021)

In school year 2018–19, the national adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students was 86 percent, the highest it has been since the rate was first measured in 2010–11. Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest ACGR (93 percent), followed by White (89 percent), Hispanic (82 percent), Black (80 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (74 percent) students.

This indicator 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 indicator, the United States includes public schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. 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 immigrate from another country or 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 2010–11.1

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Figure 1. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by state and categorized into specific ranges: 2018–19
Figure 1. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by state and categorized into specific ranges: 2018–19

NOTE: The ACGR is the percentage of public high school freshmen who graduate with a regular diploma within 4 years of starting 9th grade. The U.S. average ACGR is for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The graduation rates displayed above have been rounded to whole numbers. Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages. The Alabama State Department of Education has indicated that their ACGR data for some years was misstated. For more information, please see the following press release issued by the state: https://www.alsde.edu/sec/comm/News%20Releases/12-08-2016%20Graduation%20Rate%20Review.pdf.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2018–19; and National Center for Education Statistics, EDFacts file 150, Data Group 695, and EDFacts file 151, Data Group 696, 2018–19. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 219.46.

Figure 2. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by race/ethnicity: 2018–19
Figure 2. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by race/ethnicity: 2018–19

1 Includes other race/ethnicity categories not separately shown.

2 Reporting practices for data on Asian and Pacific Islander students vary by state. Asian/Pacific Islander data in this indicator 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.” “Asian/Pacific Islander” includes the “Filipino” group, which only California and Hawaii report separately.

3 Estimated assuming a count of zero American Indian/Alaska Native students for Hawaii.

NOTE: The ACGR is the percentage of public high school freshmen who graduate with a regular diploma within 4 years of starting 9th grade. The total ACGR is for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2018–19; and National Center for Education Statistics, EDFacts file 150, Data Group 695, and EDFacts file 151, Data Group 696, 2018–19. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 219.46.

Figure 3. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Black public high school students, by state and the United States: 2018–19
Figure 3. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Black public high school students, by state and the United States: 2018–19

1 Although only whole percentages are displayed in this figure, the ACGR gaps are calculated using the most precise graduation rates available for public use, which include some rates rounded to one decimal place and some rates rounded to whole numbers to protect student privacy. Gaps presented in this figure may vary slightly from those that would be calculated using rates with more precision.

NOTE: The ACGR is the percentage of public high school freshmen who graduate with a regular diploma within 4 years of starting 9th grade. The U.S. average ACGR is for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2018–19; and National Center for Education Statistics, EDFacts file 150, Data Group 695, and EDFacts file 151, Data Group 696, 2018–19. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 219.46.

Figure 4. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Hispanic public high school students, by state and the United States: 2018–19
Figure 4. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Hispanic public high school students, by state and the United States: 2018–19

1 Although only whole percentages are displayed in this figure, the ACGR gaps are calculated using the most precise graduation rates available for public use, which include some rates rounded to one decimal place and some rates rounded to whole numbers to protect student privacy. Gaps presented in this figure may vary slightly from those that would be calculated using rates with more precision.

NOTE: The ACGR is the percentage of public high school freshmen who graduate with a regular diploma within 4 years of starting 9th grade. The U.S. average ACGR is for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2018–19; and National Center for Education Statistics, EDFacts file 150, Data Group 695, and EDFacts file 151, Data Group 696, 2018–19. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 219.46.


1 Although a relatively new graduation rate measure, the ACGR is considered the most accurate measure available for reporting on-time graduation rates. For more information, see Seastrom, M., Chapman, C., Stillwell, R., McGrath, D., Peltola, P., Dinkes, R., and Xu, Z. (2006). User’s Guide to Computing High School Graduation Rates, Volume 2: Technical Evaluation of Proxy Graduation Indicators (NCES 2006-605). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006605.

2 Throughout this indicator, interpret Alabama data with caution. The Alabama State Department of Education has indicated that their ACGR data for some years was misstated. For more information, please see the following press release issued by the state: https://www.alsde.edu/sec/comm/News%20Releases/12-08-2016%20Graduation%20Rate%20Review.pdf.

3 Throughout this indicator, counts of states are based on unrounded graduation rates.

4 Estimated assuming a count of zero American Indian/Alaska Native students for Hawaii.

5 Reporting practices for data on Asian and Pacific Islander students vary by state. Asian/Pacific Islander data in this indicator 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.” “Asian/Pacific Islander” includes the “Filipino” group, which only California and Hawaii report separately.

6 The ACGR for Asian/Pacific Islander students was 95 percent or higher in West Virginia. This value has been “blurred” to protect student privacy.

7 Discussion of ACGRs for American Indian/Alaska Native students excludes data for the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont. The American Indian/Alaska Native data are suppressed for the District of Columbia and Vermont to protect student privacy and are unavailable for Hawaii.

8 The ACGR for American Indian/Alaska Native students was 90 percent or higher in Kentucky. This value has been “blurred” to protect student privacy.

9 Although only whole percentages are displayed in this indicator, the calculations are based on the most precise graduation rates available for public use, which include some rates rounded to one decimal place and some rates rounded to whole numbers to protect student privacy. Gaps presented in this indicator may vary slightly from those that would be calculated using rates with more precision.

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