A national study by a research group shows Iowa has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country. Christopher Swanson is the director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. Swanson says the nation’s graduation rate as a whole was 70.6%, while Iowa’s was 82.8%, second only to New Jersey. New Jersey’s graduation rate was 83.3%.

The graduation rates for high school students are from 2005. Swanson says E-P-E’s graduation rate for Iowa is about eight points lower than what is reported by the state. He says that’s because they use a different calculation known as the Leaver rate. Swanson says the problem with the Leaver rate is that it relies on drop-out rates, and he says that’s very hard to track, which leads to higher graduation rates.

Swanson says Iowa has made improvement, even though the state has been near the top. Swanson says in the five years between 2001 and 2005, Iowa increased the graduation rate by about four percentage points. Swanson says Iowa is like many other states as its graduation rates for minorities could be improved.

He says the state does well overall an is third in the nation for white student graduation rates — third in the nation — but the rates for Latinos and African Americans drop to the mid to upper 50’s. Iowa’s graduation rates in the E-P-E survey for white students is 84.8%, while it’s 58.6% for African Americans and 54% for Hispanics. Nevada had the lowest overall graduation rate in the country at 45.4%.