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Indicators

Public High School Graduation Rates
(Last Updated: May 2019)

In school year 201617, the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students was 85 percent, the highest it has been since the rate was first measured in 201011. Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest ACGR (91 percent), followed by White (89 percent), Hispanic (80 percent), Black (78 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (72 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, except for the Bureau of Indian Education schools. State education agencies calculate the ACGR by identifying the “cohort” of first-time ninth-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.


Figure 1. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by state: 2016–17

Figure 1. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by state: 2016–17


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.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2016–17. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 219.46.


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


Figure 2. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by race/ethnicity: 2016–17

Figure 2. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high school students, by race/ethnicity: 2016–17


1 Includes other race/ethnicity categories not separately shown.
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. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2016–17. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 219.46.


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


Figure 3. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Black public high school students, by state: 2016–17

Figure 3. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Black public high school students, by state: 2016–17


1 The graduation rate 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. These gaps may vary slightly from those that would be calculated using unrounded rates.
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. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2016–17. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 219.46.


The U.S. average ACGR for White public high school students (89 percent) was 11 percentage points higher than the U.S. average ACGR for their Black peers (78 percent) in 2016–17.4 White students had higher ACGRs than Black students in every state and the District of Columbia. Minnesota and Wisconsin reported the largest gaps between the ACGRs for White and Black students (23 percentage points and 26 percentage points, respectively).


Figure 4. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Hispanic public high school students, by state: 2016–17

Figure 4. Adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) of White and Hispanic public high school students, by state: 2016–17


# Rounds to zero.
1 The graduation rate 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. These gaps may vary slightly from those that would be calculated using unrounded rates.
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. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, 2016–17. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 219.46.


The U.S. average ACGR for White students (89 percent) was 9 percentage points higher than the U.S. average ACGR for Hispanic students (80 percent) in 2016–17. The ACGRs for White students were higher than the ACGRs for Hispanic students in 46 states and the District of Columbia. In Hawaii, the ACGRs for Hispanic and White students were both 80 percent. In Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia, the ACGRs for Hispanic students were higher than the ACGRs for White students.


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 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.” “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.
4 Percentage point 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. These gaps may vary slightly from those that would be calculated using unrounded rates.


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