A new study ranks Iowa’s high school graduation rate third-highest in the nation.
While the national average is around 70 percent, Iowa’s graduation rate is at 81 percent, below only Utah and New Jersey.
Christopher Swanson, director of the Washington D.C.-based Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, says Iowa’s showing is excellent, but there’s still room for improvement. "Although the overall graduation rate is fairly high, there are some lower performing groups within the state. Latinos graduated about 48 percent and African-Americans graduated 54 percent, compared to almost 83 percent for white students," Swanson says. "So, within the 81 percent you do find some numerically-small but low performing groups."
While some minority groups saw less-than-spectacular graduation rates in Iowa, Swanson says the numbers are similar to the national averages. "For African-Americans in Iowa, the graduation rate is 54 percent compared to about 53 percent (nationally), so very close," he says. "With African-Americans, Iowa’s pretty typical. Latinos though, in Iowa, graduated about ten-percentage points lower than in the average state so that’s an area where a minority group within Iowa is performing lower than the average state."
The group bases graduation rates on the percentage of students who start high school versus the number who graduate with a regular diploma in the standard number of years.
Swanson says high school graduation rates are key because a diploma is just the first step in preparing young people for successful careers. "To have access to a good job or good occupation, you really need to be thinking about getting some education past high school because if you fail to get a high school diploma, you’re really relegated to the worst jobs in the economy. If you just get a high school diploma, you’re a little bit better off but if you can get some college education, maybe its an associate’s, maybe it’s some academic or vocational training in a substantial way, that really does open some important doors for you," Swanson says.
For more information, see the "Diplomas Count" study at www.edweek.org/go/dc07 .