Click here to see a full size version of this map. Graphic: Sarah Butrymowicz
Until now, if you wanted to know how a school district’s high school graduation rate fared against other states or regions, you’d have to rely on state averages from the federal government.
We decided that’s not good enough.
Since we’re becoming a little obsessed with high school reform over here, I gathered the district-level statistics nationwide and compiled them for anyone else as curious as we are.
The government mandated a uniform way of calculating high school graduation rates beginning with the class of 2011. Since then, the national rate rose from 79 percent to 81 percent in 2013. It ranges from 69 percent in Oregon to nearly 90 percent in Iowa. But with only state-level figures published, that’s an incomplete picture, since low-performers are masked into averages.
Hence this map. It comes with caveats, too. These rates are for all students from 2013, as a handful of states have yet to report their 2014 numbers. The state information wasn’t always completely in line with the district maps, and obviously, I’m missing some districts — and the entire state of Pennsylvania, which only reports graduation rates by individual school, and Oklahoma, which will be providing me with the information after their state board approves it in July. The data don’t capture charter schools or private schools. Different states have different graduation requirements. And as NPR did an excellent job explaining earlier this month, reported graduation rates can be questionable.
Nevertheless, the numbers tell fascinating stories. At first glance, you can see some regional patterns: Just look at how low graduation rates are in the South, and at the stark differences along some state boarders, like Texas’s high graduation rates and New Mexico’s low ones. Some states are generally consistent in their achievement (Wisconsin) or lack thereof (Nevada), while others have notable variation among districts. In Colorado, for instance, pockets of high graduation rates are surrounded by poorer-performing districts.
All summer long, I’ll be exploring the trends in different regions and states and zooming in on some of the harder-to-see areas. Keep checking back, and leave comments or tweet us anything you see that I should look into: @sarahbutro or @hechingerreport.
* Graduation rates were not available for some districts, but we included all the ones we could find.
[Cross-posted at The Hechinger Report]