The U.S. Department of Education is celebrating a new milestone for the nation’s high-school graduation rate, with just over 82 percent of seniors earning diplomas in 2014. But these statistics, like so many others in the education realm, should come with a warning label: The numbers don’t tell the full story.
While this marks four consecutive years of improvement, and a record high nationally, the GradNation campaign—a leading organization pushing to improve outcomes and opportunities for high schoolers—called Tuesday’s news “sobering.” Here’s why: Eighty-two percent was still a few tenths of a percent short of being on track for meeting the campaign’s goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by the year 2020. And there are still significant gaps in the performance of black and Hispanic students, kids from low-income families, and English-language learners.
The campaign—consisting of the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University—said in a statement that while there is reason for optimism, it won’t be an easy haul:
We must remain diligent and steadfast in our efforts to implement what we know is working – including heeding early warning signs and surrounding students with more caring adults both in and outside the classroom – and to eliminate what we know is not working, including suspension and expulsion policies that have a disparate impact on young people of color and students with disabilities.
(U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has also acknowledged there is still plenty of work to be done.)