CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 45, No. 41

June 7, 2011

“Diplomas Count” Report Suggests State, Nation Are Turning a Corner


A new report shows that graduation rates among public high school students have increased in Missouri and across the U.S.

The sixth annual “Diplomas Count” report, released today by Education Week, provides updated graduation-rate findings for the class of 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.  The report offers an independent analysis of graduation statistics and trends for all 50 states.

“Overall, there is definitely good news in this year’s report in terms of high school graduation and students’ postsecondary ambitions,” Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro said.  “However, we still have a long way to go to reach our goal.  We know that graduation from high school is essential but not sufficient.  All students must graduate twice—once from high school and once from some sort of postsecondary education or training.”

In 2008, Missouri’s public high schools graduated 76.9 percent of their students.  This reflects an improvement of 1.6 percentage points above the previous year (75.3 percent) but is short of the state goal to improve the graduation rate annually by at least 2 percent.  Meanwhile, the national average rose 2.9 percentage points to 71.7 percent.

 “We believe we are beginning to turn the corner,” Nicastro said, noting recent gains, “yet, we have a tremendous amount of work to do across our state to ensure all students can succeed.  Unfortunately, graduation rates continue to be far lower for minority students.”

Losing ground in the statewide analysis were male students of Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native descent.  The 2008 graduation rate for Hispanic males in Missouri was 47.4 percent, a decrease of 4.4 percentage points.  The same reduction was seen for American Indian/Alaska Native students, resulting in a graduation rate of 38.3 percent.  Both rates were well below the national averages for the subgroups, 52.8 percent and 48.9 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, a significant improvement in the graduation rate was achieved by African-American males.  Statewide, this demographic subgroup increased its graduation rate to 51.9 percent, up 4.9 percentage points from the previous year.  Nationally, the graduation rate for black males was 50 percent, an increase of 3.3 percentage points over the same period.