An estimated 1.2 million U.S. students, most of them members of minority groups, will fail to graduate from high school with their peers, according to a new analysis by the Editorial Projects in Educations (EPE) Research Center.
The analysis is included in a special issue of Education Week, Diplomas Count: "An Essential Guide to Graduation Policy and Rates." The report, the first in an annual Graduation Project Series, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides detailed data on graduation rates for the 2002-2003 school year, for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the nation's 50 largest school districts. Graduation rates were calculated by the EPE Research Center using the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) method. Using information from a federal data set, the CPI estimates the probability that a student in the ninth grade will complete high school on time with a regular diploma.
The study found that seven in 10 students graduate from high school with a regular diploma. But about half of American India and African American students graduate, compared with more than three-quarters of non-Hispanic whites and Asians. The Hispanic graduation rate is 55.6%. Male students are consistently less likely to graduate than females, a pattern that can be found across every racial and ethnic group examined, according to the report.
State graduation rates for the 2002-2003 school year ranged from 84.5% in New Jersey to 52.5% in South Carolina. Official state-reported rates for that same year were almost always higher. In New Mexico and North Carolina, state-reported rates exceeded the CPI method by more than 30 percentage points (89% versus 57% and 97% versus 66%, respectively. Washington was the only state that reported a lower rate than what the EPE Research Center found using the CPI method. The study's author note that a major reason for these differences is the various methods states use to calculate their own graduation rates.