High school graduation rates hit an all-time high

The high school graduation rate hit 84.1 percent in 2016, according to new government data, with greater than average gains made by low-income and minority students.

The overall graduation rate rose nearly a full percentage point, according to the data from the National Center for Education, which measured the percentage of each freshman class that goes on to earn a diploma. It was the fifth straight year in which the graduation rate rose.

Black students and students learning English saw gains of about 1.8 percent over the previous year, while the rate for Hispanic and low-income students rose 1.5 points. Students with disabilities saw a gain of nearly 1 percent.

Despite those increases, however, there remains a significant gap between white and minority students.

Some 88 percent of white students graduated in 2016, compared to 79 percent of Hispanic students and 76 percent of black students. The graduation rate for low-income students was 78 percent.

Moreover, the Alliance for Excellent Education, a policy and advocacy group, reports that nearly 2,400 high schools in the US failed to graduate one-third or more of their students. Those schools have higher percentages of minority and low-income students.

“In today’s world, young people who don’t graduate from high school have virtually no chance to find a job with a family supporting wage,” said the group in a statement. “We need a sense of urgency at every level – from the kitchen table to the schoolhouse to the highest reaches of corporations and government. It is simply unacceptable to leave so many young people behind.”