IF percentages were all that mattered, then the nation’s improving high school graduation rate would be a reason to celebrate. The newest calculation from researchers at Education Week shows that nearly 75 percent of the Class of 2010 — those students who began as high school freshmen four years earlier — graduated on time with a standard diploma.
The percentage is significantly higher than 10 years ago and is climbing closer to the all-time high of 77.1 percent, the newspaper reported. The 2010 data was the most recent available, but researchers used the information to project results for the just-graduated Class of 2013. Their prediction: A staggering 1 million students who began as high school freshmen in the 2009-10 school year didn’t get a diploma this spring.
That’s worth repeating: As many as 1 million students who should have graduated in the past two months with a high school diploma either walked away or left empty-handed.
In its annual Diplomas Count special report, the newspaper did the math that makes the heartbreak of those numbers even more real: More than 5,500 students were “lost” each school day, or one student every 31 seconds.
It’s difficult to celebrate improvement when so many students are staring at the prospect of life without a high school diploma. Research shows such young people have trouble gaining and keeping employment, and make far less money than their peers. They are less likely to vote and are more prone to crime. For young women without a diploma, any children they have or will have in the future face a reduced hope of obtaining a diploma.
From 2000 to 2010, Oklahoma’s graduation rate (as calculated by Education Week) beat the national average. This wasn’t true in 2008 or in the most recent data for 2010, with a reported rate of 73.9 percent. For the most recent school year, the newspaper predicted more than 14,000 Oklahoma students didn’t graduate on time.