Report: 70% of High Schoolers Graduate

By: - June 21, 2006 12:00 am

About 30 percent of the nation’s public school students fail to graduate on time, according to an analysis by the research center of Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week newspaper.

The report based its estimate on figures from a U.S. Department of Education census for the 2002-03 school year, the most recent available data. Only public school students were included in the report, which was released June 20 and was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The analysis found that during the 2002-03 school year, students in largely minority districts and urban districts had lower graduation rates than their largely white and suburban counterparts.

Official state-reported graduation rates for 2002-03 were almost always higher than the report’s conclusions, the report noted, attributing this discrepancy to states’ varied methods of calculating dropout rates. For example, while North Carolina reported a 97 percent graduation rate, the report found the state’s graduation rate that year to be 66.2 percent.

Last year, all 50 governors agreed to develop a standard system to measure high school graduation rates.

Among the report’s findings for the 2002-03 school year:

  • New Jersey led the country with the highest graduation rate at 84.5 percent, followed by North Dakota (83.1 percent) and Iowa (82.5 percent).
  • South Carolina had the country’s lowest graduation rate at 52.5 percent, followed by Nevada (55.9 percent) and Georgia (56.3 percent).
  • About 75 percent of Asians and whites graduated high school. In comparison, about half of Native Americans and blacks graduated, and about 56 percent of Hispanics graduated.
  • More girls than boys graduated in every state and across all racial groups. The widest gap was among blacks, where girls out-graduated boys 57.8 percent to 44.3 percent. Nationally, that figure was 72.7 percent to 65.2 percent.
  • Out of the country’s 50 largest school districts, the Detroit School District (Michigan), the 11 th largest district, had the lowest graduation rate, 21.7 percent, and Fairfax County (Virginia), the 14 th largest district, had the highest graduation rate at 82.5 percent.

The report, along with individual state and district data, can be found at

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.