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States where high schoolers are least likely to graduate

  • States where high schoolers are least likely to graduate

    High school isn’t all football games, homecoming dances, and cafeteria hangouts with friends. For many students, it’s a socially and academically demanding time filled with stressful exams, embarrassing moments, and worries about what to do after graduation.

    These days, it’s even harder, with the coronavirus forcing many students to attend classes from home, unable to see friends and missing out on all the sports, music programs, drama productions, and hands-on arts and mechanics projects that can help make school fun.

    Pressures not to finish high school can be intense. Students leave to find jobs, move and don’t reenroll, fail classes, and fall so far behind that they lose interest. And that’s not even considering pressures like domestic violence, family emergencies, and teenage pregnancy that might tempt someone to drop out. Without a high school diploma, it’s harder to find jobs—and harder to find jobs that pay well. Workers with high school diplomas make an average of $154 more a week than those without, and they earn about $1 million more over the course of their lifetimes. People without high school degrees are more likely to end up in prison or on welfare.

    Nationwide, the rate of students graduating from high school in four years was 85.3% in the Class of 2018. It was 79% for Black students, 81% for Hispanic students, 79.5% for economically disadvantaged students, 68.3% for students who learned English as a second language, and 67.1% for students with disabilities.

    Schools across the country—there are about 24,400 public high schools in the United States—look for ways to keep students on track to earn their high school diplomas.

    Some offer programs for students to retake classes or make up credits outside of regular school hours. Others hire more counselors and tutors, find mentors, or try to attract good teachers by paying higher salaries than other regions. Still other schools make an effort to make students from a young age think about their options beyond graduation and help them plan to reach their goals or track their progress closely, intervening to address signs of trouble, frustration, or failure.

    Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Stacker ranked the 50 states and Washington D.C. by their public high school four-year graduation rate in the 2017-2018 school year. This data was last updated in May 2020. Each slide also includes the graduation rates for students who are economically disadvantaged, have limited English proficiency, have a disability, are homeless, or live in foster care.

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  • #51. Washington D.C.

    - Total graduation rate: 68.5%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 58.9%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 56.0%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 47.0%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 44.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 46.0%

    The high school graduation rate in the District of Columbia has fallen since an investigation revealed that one in three graduates in 2017 got diplomas even though they had missed too many classes or took makeup classes improperly. These revelations forced the system to tighten graduation requirements, particularly its credit-recovery program, which allows students who have failed classes to make up credits outside of regular school hours. The city added a requirement that students must take and pass exams as part of the program.

  • #50. New Mexico

    - Total graduation rate: 73.9%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 69.0%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 71.1%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 65.6%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 53.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 46.0%

    A significant anchor on the high school graduation rate in New Mexico, the lowest among the U.S. states, is the dropout rate among Native American students. The state is home to 23 Native American tribes, and 10% of the student population is indigenous. Graduation rates among Native Americans in New Mexico have improved but lag behind the overall rate by more than 5 percentage points.

  • #49. Alaska

    - Total graduation rate: 78.5%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 71.9%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 61.0%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 57.0%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 57.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 55.0%

    A critical issue facing Alaska’s schools is the difficulty recruiting qualified teachers to its rural areas, which are remote and have high costs of living. To attract educators, the state‘s teaching salaries are far higher than the national average—more than $102,000 a year compared with a national average of less than $70,000 in 2019—but turnover is still high. Other factors in student achievement are families with high rates of both alcoholism and opioid use, officials say.

  • #47. Oregon (tie)

    - Total graduation rate: 78.7%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 72.4%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 56.0%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 60.6%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 54.1%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: data not available

    Oregon’s high school graduation rate, while low compared with other states, represents a notable improvement over that of a decade ago, when it was 66.2%. The improvement is attributed to Measure 98, the High School Success Act of 2016, which allotted $170 million to the state’s 255 high school districts. The money was earmarked for dropout prevention programs as well as career, technical, and college-focused classes. A factor affecting graduation rates is homelessness: In 2019, Oregon had more than 22,000 homeless students, according to estimates. The likelihood that students graduate on time drops to 55.4% when they become homeless.

  • #47. Arizona (tie)

    - Total graduation rate: 78.7%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 73.0%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 47.0%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 67.7%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 52.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 45.0%

    More than 5% (nearly 400,000) of Arizona residents are Native American, and the high school graduation among Native American students is some 10 percentage points below the state’s overall rate. The state is home to 21 recognized tribes. Also, the Hispanic high school dropout rate is about twice as high as that of white students. Nearly one in three residents has Hispanic or Latino origins.

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  • #46. Michigan

    - Total graduation rate: 80.6%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 70.0%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 71.2%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 57.5%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 57.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 40.0%

    Michigan's high school graduation rate has been rising in recent years, and the state’s dropout rate declined, except in Detroit, which has seen its graduation rate decrease. Some high schools in Detroit reverted back to local control in 2017 after being run by a state agency aimed at improving poorly performing schools. Detroit schools have placed renewed emphasis on literacy and math classes, career-focused programs, attendance, absenteeism, staffing, and discipline. Statewide, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal for 60% of residents to complete a post-secondary training program or a university or college degree by 2030.

  • #45. Idaho

    - Total graduation rate: 80.7%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 72.3%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 76.0%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 59.0%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 58.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 47.0%

    Idaho’s high school graduation rate has been on the rise for the last several years, up from 78.9% in 2015. The spike is linked in part to an accountability plan, put in place as of the 2018-19 school year, that included the issue of online report cards for each school. The report cards are designed to give ready access to achievement data, test results, enrollment, graduation rates, demographics, and teacher retention, replacing difficult-to-read data spreadsheets that were used in the past.

  • #44. Colorado

    - Total graduation rate: 80.8%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 70.7%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 67.0%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 58.6%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 55.4%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 25.0%

    Colorado’s four-year high school graduation rate has been rising, although more significant gains have been made among students graduating in five, six, and seven years. Graduates next year will have new requirements requiring proven competence in English and math.

  • #43. South Carolina

    - Total graduation rate: 81.0%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 83.2%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 80.3%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 52.1%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 64.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 48.0%

    The high school graduation rate rose in South Carolina with the class of 2020, after falling for three years. The results vary dramatically around the state, however, from a high of 95.7% in a northern York County school district to a low of 71.8% in a mid-state Florence County district. The graduation rate in the latter district has dropped nearly 15 percentage points over the course of the last three years.

  • #42. Louisiana

    - Total graduation rate: 81.4%
    --- Rate among economically disadvantaged students: 75.5%
    --- Rate among students with limited English proficiency: 36.0%
    --- Rate among students with disabilities: 59.3%
    --- Rate among homeless students: 60.0%
    --- Rate among students in foster care: 35.0%

    Louisiana's public high school graduation rate hit a milestone in 2018 when it topped 80%, a goal that was set in a 2009 state law. Just a decade ago, in 2010, Louisiana’s high school graduation rate was 67.2%, meaning practically a third of its students failed to graduate on time.

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