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State and District Graduation Rates, Latino Students Profiled in Diplomas Count 2012


June 8, 2012

By: Catherine

The U.S. high school graduation rose to 73.4 percent for the class of 2009, according to data from the Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center presented in the latest edition of Diplomas Count. This is a 1.7 percent bump from the previous year and reflects a 7-point increase over the past decade. Educators, policymakers and the public can also see 2009 graduation rates for their states and districts through interactive EdWeek Maps.

Diplomas Count 2012 also zeroes in on the challenges and successes of Latino students. The graduation rate for Latino students in the class of 2009 was 63 percent, a striking 5.5 percent increase over the previous year, but below the national average. White and Asian-American students continued to graduate at above average rates, although the Asian-American graduation rate declined slightly. In contrast, the percentage of African-American students graduating in 2009 increased by 1.7 percent to 59 percent, and the graduation rate for American Indian students fell just a bit to 53 percent.

The report identifies factors impeding Latino students’ success such as poverty, English language skills, education access disparities that begin in early childhood, lack of experience in seeking financial aid for college, and cultural norms that may particularly discourage young Latinas from pursuing further education. It also examines the impact of the Alabama anti-immigration law on immigrant and non-immigrant Latino students. 

But all is not bleak. The EPE Research Center has identified 38 Latino-majority districts that are helping Latino students succeed, including Miami-Dade and Lompoc Unified in California. A panel session during today’s release event for the publication highlighted some of these success stories. For instance, Dr. Daniel King of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District described the district’s career academies and dual enrollment strategies. The district partners with a local community college to create minimesters for short-term college-level learning. He also told attendees that at graduation, 40 percent of the district’s students have college credit hours. In addition, the district employs counselors locally at the college level to track and help their students persist in postsecondary education.

To read more for yourself, go to EdWeek.org. Several portions of the report and the related tools are free, but others require an Education Week subscription and/or purchase. 

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