Director, Public Information

Vol. 44, No. 48

June 10, 2010

“Diplomas Count.”  Missouri Must Increase Graduation Rate

Although a new national report shows that Missouri is above the national average in its graduation rate for public high school students, Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro says the statistic is not good enough.

According to the annual “Diplomas Count” report, issued nationally today by Education Week, Missouri graduated 75.3% of its public high school students in 2007.  Missouri’s rate actually improved by nearly one percentage point over the previous year (74.4%), while the national average dropped slightly (0.4%) to 68.8% in the latest report.

“Overall, Missouri’s graduation rate has improved by nearly five points over the past decade, but it has moved up and down in recent years.  This level of performance is not high enough to ensure that all Missouri students will finish high school and be college- and career-ready,” Nicastro said. 

The new report offers an independent analysis of graduation statistics and trends for all 50 states.  While the national average for all public school students now stands at 68.8 percent, the numbers are far lower for minority students and in some of the nation’s largest cities.

The “Diplomas Count” study is based on the most recent data available for all states (2007), and it uses its own method of calculating graduation rates in order to compare data consistently among all states.

“It is an ongoing tragedy that barely half of the Hispanic and black male students in our public schools are likely to earn a high school diploma,” Nicastro said.   “As we think about ‘school reform’ in the next decade, we must do more to identify students who are struggling and help them achieve at a level that will assure their success during and after high school.” 

Nicastro noted that Missouri adopted new and more rigorous high school graduation requirements for public school students in 2005.  Those standards were in effect for this year’s seniors, the Class of 2010. 

State education officials will not get data from school districts until July 1 to know what impact the more-stringent academic requirements may have had on the number of graduates this year. 

The full “Diplomas Count” report is available at