Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

While Few Students Drop Out, Indiana's Graduation Rate Slightly Lags Nation

    U.S. Department of Education / NCES

    A map from the U.S. Department of Education: "The average freshman graduation rate for public high school students, 2009-10."

    78.2 percent of American high school students graduated on time in the 2009-10 school year, which the U.S. Department of Education says marks the highest point in the nation’s graduation rate since 1974.

    While Indiana’s method for calculating high school graduation rates differs from the federal government’s, the numbers released this week shows Indiana’s graduation rate at 77.2 percent — a lower rate than neighboring Kentucky, Illinois or Ohio.

    Indiana’s overall dropout rate, though, is one of the nation’s lowest. For every 1000 Indiana high school students, 1.6 drops out.

    A few highlights from the recently-released graduation numbers:

    • Dropouts Dropping. Indiana’s dropout rate is not only lower than the national average — the state’s rate has dropped since 2005, when 2.9 students for every 1000 dropped out.
    • Minority Graduation Rates. Both Hispanic and black students in Indiana graduate on-time at lower rates than white students. Indiana’s Hispanic graduation rate of 71.8 percent is in-line with national averages for Hispanics. The state’s black graduation rate — 61.6 percent — is roughly four percentage points lower than the national average for blacks. 79.1 percent of white students graduate on time, also lagging the national average for whites.
    • Most Dropouts Happen Late. Statistics confirm that the dropout rate nearly doubles between junior and senior years of high school. In Indiana, for every 1000 high school juniors, 1.7 of them drop out. For every 1000 high school seniors, 3.2 of them drop out.

    For the 2009-10 school year, state officials calculated Indiana’s graduation rate at 84.1 percent — a disparity, again, due to differences in the way the state crunches the numbers.

    Graduation rates are a subject of debate in the Indiana General Assembly this year, as a prominent lawmaker has introduced a bill that would make it more difficult for a student to earn a high school diploma without passing required state tests in English 10 and Algebra I.

    By the state’s calculations, excluding students who received waivers knocks the state’s graduation rate from the posted 85.7 percent down to 78.9 percent.


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