America’s High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High of 85.3%

Graduation Rate

The graduation rate for Asian students rose to 92.2% and for White students to 89.1%

There is always a call for “second act” when it to supporting young people to graduation and beyond. More high school graduates mean more young people are achieving an important milestone towards leading successful lives. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education has released data that shows the high school graduation rate for the class of 2018 hit a record high of 85.3%. This is continued progress but much more must be done to close equity gaps and support all students in earning a quality diploma that prepares them for their futures.

The new figures show the graduation rate increased from the previous year’s rate of 84.6%. Despite this progress, the nation is off track to reach GradNation’s goal of a 90% percent rate by 2020.

All racial and ethnic groups observed an increase in the graduation rate, however, Black and Hispanic students as always trail their Asian and White counterparts by about 10 percentage points. The graduation rate was 81% for Hispanic students, 79.5% for economically disadvantaged, 79% for Black students, 73.5% for American Indian and American Native students, 68.3% for students with limited English proficiency, and 67.1% for students with disabilities. The graduation rate for Asian students rose to 92.2% and for White students to 89.1%.

But it is not enough: graduation rates don’t tell the whole story of what students need to thrive as adults. In addition to helping students achieve the graduation milestone, we must keep working to improve the high school experience for all individuals of every background by supporting their specific social, emotional, and academic needs and listening to young people so that they can be well prepared for whatever their futures bring,” said Dennis Vega, Interim President & CEO of America’s Promise Alliance.

Despite of no national graduation rate data for homeless students and young people in guardianship, the majority of states have reported these rates and they range significantly. However, it suggests that more work is needed to understand these data. Graduation rates for homeless students range from a high of 84% in Kentucky to a low of 44% in the District of Columbia. For young people in foster care, the rates range from 80% in Mississippi to 25% in Colorado.

The 2018 data also show that seven states have now reached the 90% graduation rate bar.

While graduation rates continue to rise toward the nation’s 90% goal, these persistent achievement gaps threaten equal access to the American Dream, particularly for students of color, from low-income families, and who experience homelessness or are in foster care,” said John Bridgeland, Founder & CEO of Civic. “The progress of a diverse group of states that have crossed the 90% threshold shows that other states can too. We can look to lessons to be learned from the states that have reached this milestone.”

As a “second act” to help more young people earn diplomas, GradNation advocates supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic needs and listening to young people. Through this, they can be ready and well for their futures in postsecondary education, the workforce, and civic life. School systems across the country are working with partners to make safe and supportive learning environments with access to rigorous coursework, mentoring, and work-based learning a priority.