By Zenitha Prince
High school graduation rates in the United States are at their highest since 1974, according to a recent U.S. Department of Education report, but Black students graduated at a rate below other ethnic groups.
Of the 4 million public school students who entered 9th grade in the 2006-2007 school year, 78.2 percent, or 3.1 million, received high school diplomas in the 2009-2010 school year, an increase of more than two percentage points.
The report also detailed the achievement rates by states. Among U.S. jurisdictions, Nevada and the District of Columbia were the lowest, with rates of 57.8 percent and 59.9 percent, respectively. At the high end, Wisconsin and Vermont had graduation rates of 91.1 percent and 91.4 percent, respectively.
“The new NCES report is good news after three decades of stagnation,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “It’s encouraging that the on-time graduation rate is up substantially from four years earlier. And it’s promising that high school graduation rates are up for all ethnic groups in 2010 – especially for Hispanics, whose graduation rate has jumped almost 10 points since 2006.”
Among racial/ethnic groups, Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest graduation rate at 93.5 percent. The rates for other groups were 83.0 percent for White students, 71.4 percent for Hispanic students, 69.1 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 66.1 percent for Black students.
“Our high school dropout rate is still unsustainably high for a knowledge-based economy and still unacceptably high in our African-American, Latino, and Native-American communities,” Duncan said.
Across the United States, more than 500,000 students who were supposed to graduate in the 2009–2010 academic year dropped out, a rate of 3.4 percent. That figure represents a decline from 4.1 percent in the 2008-2009 period.
Asian/Pacific Islander and White students had the lowest dropout rates, at 1.9 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. In increasing order, the dropout rate for Hispanic students was 5.0 percent; for Black students, 5.5 percent; and for American Indian/Alaska Native students, 6.7 percent.