Study: High school grad rate highest since '76

  1. WASHINGTON (AP)-The nation's high school graduation rate is the highest since 1976, but more than a fifth of students are still failing to get their diploma in four years, the Education Department said in a study released Tuesday.

    Officials said the steady rise of students completing their education is a reflection of the struggling economy and a greater competition for new jobs.

    "If you drop out of high school, how many good jobs are there out there for you? None. That wasn't true 10 or 15 years ago," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an interview with The Associated Press.
    The national dropout rate was about 3 percent overall, down from the year before. Many students who don't receive their diplomas in four years stay in school, taking five years or more to finish their coursework. ...

    ... There were tremendous differences among the states in 2010. Fifty-eight percent of students in Nevada and 60 percent in Washington, D.C., completed their high school education in four years. By comparison, 91 percent of students in Wisconsin and Vermont did, according to the report. ...

    ... Nationally, students were most likely to drop out of high school during their senior year, with roughly one in 20 quitting before graduation day. In every state, males were more likely to drop out.

    Arizona had the highest dropout rate, at 8 percent, followed by Mississippi at 7 percent. Washington, D.C., schools also posted a 7 percent dropout rate, the Education Department projected based on previous years' reporting.

    Mississippi, New Mexico and Wyoming had dropout rates rise more than one percentage point, while Delaware, Illinois and Louisiana saw noticeable decreases. Delaware dropped from about 5 percent to 4 percent. Illinois dropped from roughly 12 percent to 3 percent. And Louisiana dropped from 7 percent to 5 percent. ...
  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    I graduated from high school in 1976, when not completing high school wasn't an option in most families---we did it because it was expected of us. The only kids who dropped out were the girls who got pregnant (back in that unenlightened age, they got kicked out of school as soon as they began to "show"), and a few of the stoners, who weren't in class enough to earn the needed credits.

    That said, it was possible then to get a family-wage job straight out of high school, and even dropouts were employable in entry-level positions. I was making $5.25 an hour in a printed-circuit board factory at a time when the minimum wage was $2.10, drove a late-model car, had nice furniture and a credit record so clean it squeaked. When my husband came along, he was making about $4 an hour while I'd been bumped up to $6.50, and we had it made---dinner out most nights of the week, parties on the weekends, expensive clothes and so on.

    But somewhere in the middle of the years when we were raising small children, that world disappeared and we found ourselves in a strange place where there were no family-wage jobs for workers of modest educational attainment. We scrambled to keep body and soul together on $170 a week, and when there was no work at all, we existed on welfare and food stamps. It wasn't until the early 1990s that we finally woke up to reality and I decided to go to nursing school......well, the rest is history.

    But what happened when it was our kids' turn to get through high school? Let's just say that two of 'em wore the cap and gown, and the other two did not. (They earned their GEDs shortly after leaving high school, which was a good thing.) I was astonished---it had never occurred to me that someone of my lineage would fail to make it through secondary education. But the truth was, the high school they all attended was too big and impersonal; if you weren't a "prep" or a "jock", or if you weren't an outright troublemaker, the school didn't pay any attention to you at all. I actually yanked my oldest son out of the 11th grade because he was getting into fights, wasn't learning anything, and the kids he associated with weren't doing him the least bit of good. So he goofed off through about six months of GED classes, then when he decided to join the Army he put his big ol' nose to the grindstone and sailed through the exams with high scores.

    For my grandchildrens' sake, I hope the schools go back to what they used to do best, which was teach children the three R's and open their minds to the opportunities for lifelong learning.
  4. by   TopazLover
    The changes in attitudes about females has something to do with the changes seen. It used to be that a pregnancy was the kiss of death for schooling. Now schools assist new mothers to stay in school. It may take that extra time to complete but at least they have a basic eduation.

    My first nursing job was as an aide before certification. $1.25 an hour and a 10 cent differential for working nights. You needed a diploma or GED for that.

    When my children were in HS it was common to quit school. Many found school to be boring and chose a GED route. All my kids got through HS but up to the day before graduation I was not sure one DS would graduate. This is the one with an MBA and an MS so it was not about brains. They had poor teaching and therefore poor learning experiences.
  5. by   TheCommuter
    The world has changed. Although more people are graduating from high school than ever, many of them are exiting school with marginal literacy skills (reading below 6th grade level) and struggle to do basic math.

    I have met so many high school graduates who are functional illiterates and marginal literates. This is a sign of social promotion, a.k.a. pushing everyone through to boost graduation rates.

    Since so many functionally illiterate high school grads are in society, this has reduced the value of a high school diploma. Therefore, employers are cracking down and starting to require college degrees for entry-level jobs that used to require high school diplomas or GEDs in the past.
  6. by   TopazLover
    I agree. That is what No child left behind was created to deal with. These are the first classes who were under the microscope of NCLB. I am not sure what theat means. We know NCLB has not been a success. Struggling school are punished for low scores. That may account for the higher drop out rates in some areas hard hit by these punishments. Schools teach to the tests, not to knowledge acquisition. Critical thinking is not important if you are answering memory questions. I am not on the front lines so I get my info from my grands who go to a math-science magnet school and the parents. I read about this but beyond the basics in the press and so far am not impressed.