2016-17 High School Graduation Rates Show Continued Improvement

January 31, 2019

Digest of Education Statistics 2017. The most recent high school graduation rate data were just released for the 2016-17 school year. The following graph shows consistent improvement in this critical student and school performance metric. Student graduation increased by 12 percentage points during the fifteen years from 2002 and 2017.  While there is still much work to be done to identify and implement graduation standards that translate into meaningful and life long benefits, this type of consistent performance improvement should be acknowledged.

AFGR:   The Average Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) was used by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) from 2002 through 2013.

•ACGR: The Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) was established by DOE in 2008, establishing a uniform and more accurate measure for calculating the rate at which students graduated from high school. 

Both models co-existed for threes years and had comparable graduate rate data during that time.

A second area of the report disaggregates graduation rate data by students from different ethnic backgrounds.  There remains an unacceptable graduation rate gap between White and Black students, and White and Hispanic students.  The resulting graduation rate for Black students (77.8%) and Hispanic students (80.0%) are failures of the system.  While progress will always be too slow in this area, the data do show steady progress in closing the gap over the last six years.  The graduation gap between White and Black students decreased by 6.2 percentage points (from 17% in 2010-11 to 10.8% in 2016-17).  The graduation gap between White and Hispanic students decreased by 4.4 percentage points (from 13% in 2010-11 to 8.6% in 2016-17). 

A third area of disaggregated data was that of graduation rates by individual states.  The variation between states continues to be extreme with the top ten states averaging a 89.7% graduation rate and the bottom ten states averaging 77.4%.  

Improving graduation rates continue to be a clear focus of the education system, and while there is a long way to go, it is one of the few areas where progress is being made.

Citation: Snyder, T.D., de Brey, C., and Dillow, S.A. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics 2017 (NCES 2018-070). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

Link: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018070.pdf