Graduation rate increases, but Southwest is below national average

June 06, 2013

A new study shows the nation’s high school graduation rate continues to improve. Arizona, California and New Mexico are among 46 states reporting better numbers, but despite the boost, the Southwest still lags behind the national average. The report released by Education Week shows the high school graduation rate in the U.S. is at nearly 75 percent, the highest since 1973. It attributes the increase to the greater number of Latino and black students graduating.

California and Arizona also increased, but Arizona is among the 10 states with the lowest high school completion numbers. Christopher Swanson is with the non-profit group that released the report.

"Within the Southwest I think we’re getting slightly different kind of trends over time, and we if we look within states we’ll see similar types of patterns where some communities and school districts are kind of moving at a faster pace than others," Swanson said.
Swanson said the results also show there is plenty of room for improvements.  
 "When you see results like this we would hope in state education leaders and political leaders that it would lead to conversations about are we doing all we can and should, and what does this tell us about the effectiveness of our efforts," Swanson said.
Erin Hart agreed. She is with the education advocacy group "Expect More Arizona." Hart said it is obvious Arizona’s education system has to improve.

"Reports like this and others like it are a call to action to all of us to say that education in Arizona needs our help, and we need to continue to prioritize it in new and different ways," Hart said.

 Swanson said that despite the growth, there is still a significant dropout rate in the country, and states should not get too excited with the increases. Swanson said an estimated 1 million students will not graduate from high school this year.