Comparing Apples to Apples – Large Achievement Gaps Appear

The U.S. Department of Education released four-year high school graduation rates for the 2010-11 school year that, for the first time, reflect a common method of calculation for all states.

The state-by-state data show graduation rates that range from 59 percent in the District of Columbia to 88 percent in Iowa. The new method requires states to track individual students and report how many first-time 9th graders graduate with a standard diploma within four years.

According to the department, the new, common metric “can be used by states, districts and schools to promote greater accountability and to develop strategies that will reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates in schools nationwide.”

Today’s data show glaring achievement gaps. In Minnesota, for instance, the graduation rate for black students was 49 percent; for white students, it was 84 percent. In Ohio, the graduation rate for economically disadvantaged students was 65 percent; for all students it was 80 percent.
The new standards make schools, districts and states to be compared. Some states have larger achievement gaps than others.  Some gaps are because of ethnicity, while most gaps are caused by economic diversity and the difficulty of those districts to be funded as well as some of the higher performing districts.