The L.A. Times reported some good news today: in 2010, the United States had its highest rate of high school graduation since the 1970s. Maybe even more encouraging is that the dropout rate has reached its lowest point in the last several years.
A new federal report found that 78.2 percent of high school students graduated from public school in four years at the end of the 2009-10 school year, the most recent year in the study. This is the highest rate the country has seen since 1974. The national dropout rate was 3.4 percent, down from the previous high of 4.2 percent in the 2006-07 school year. Thirty-eight states showed an increase in graduation rates of at least one percentage point.
While things looked better overall, the graduation rates differed significantly based on geography. Nevada had a graduation rate of 57.8 percent which seems low compared to Vermont's 91.4 percent. Arizona reported the highest dropout rate at 7.8 while New Hampshire and Idaho reported the lowest rates at 1.2 and 1.4 respectively. California, which has the largest public school system in the country, had the largest number of dropouts at 93,000, compared to 514,000 dropout students across the country.
When the findings were broken down by race, Asian students graduated at the highest rates (93.5 percent), Latino students graduated at 71.4 percent, white students graduated at 83 percent, while black students had the lowest the graduation rates at 66.1 percent. Experts say this rise in graduation rates can be attributed to the poor economy. With fewer low-paying jobs that generally attract teenagers, there were fewer options for high school students.