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83.2%: Nation Reaches Record High Graduation Rate for High School Students

The White House announced today that U.S. high school graduation rates nationwide are at a record high with 83.2 percent of the nation’s students graduating from high school.

Since 2010, graduation rates in general have risen by 4.2 percent, with minority students experiencing the most gains; graduation rates for black students, for example, increased by 7.6 percent.

Other student groups experienced gains as well with an 8.1 percent increase in graduation rates for English Language Learners.

The record high represents a continuing trend of more and more U.S. students earning diplomas—a phenomenon that both excites and concerns experts.

While the trend of growing graduation rates is certainly a sign of progress, especially given that both English Language Learners and black students are making the most gains, experts worry that diplomas are no longer representing college and career readiness.

Experts point to abysmal performances on standardized tests developed specifically to measure college and career readiness. This year, only 40 percent of U.S. students scored at college and career ready levels on The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, a test that has been trusted to determine college and career readiness for decades.

The cause for concern becomes evident when realizing that while only 40 percent of students are testing at levels of college and career readiness, over 80 percent are graduating with diplomas, potentially meaning half of those students are not prepared for what awaits them.

It raises the serious question of whether or not diplomas can be considered a national standard for student achievement and a serious downer for such positive news as yet another record high for national graduation rates.

Regardless, President Barack Obama will be elaborating on the announcement later today at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. Obama has chosen Benjamin Banneker Academic High School because it made the most progress in improving graduation rates this year, according to The Huffington Post.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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