Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Among States With Lowest High School Graduation Rates

Bradley Easom/flickr

Florida is among states with the lowest high school graduation rates.

Florida has one of the nation’s lowest graduation rates, according to new federal data released Monday.

The U.S. Department of Education shows preliminary four-year high school graduation rates in 2010-2011.

It’s the first time that “all states used a common, rigorous measure,” according to the federal agency.

Florida landed in the bottom 20 percent of states with an overall graduation rate of 71 percent in 2010-11. Just six states and the District of Columbia had a lower graduation rate than Florida.

Among them:

  • Alabama  72%
  • Florida  71%
  • Louisiana  71%
  • Alaska  68%
  • Oregon  68%
  • Georgia  67%
  • New Mexico  63%
  • Nevada  62%
  • District of Columbia  59%

The highest performer was Iowa at 88%.

The rankings were even worse for black students. Just 59 percent of black students graduated, lower than all but five states and D.C. The Hispanic graduation rate was 69 percent, lower than all but 17 states and D.C.

Florida had 2,643,347 students enrolled in 3,395 public schools in 2010-11. 56 percent of those students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

The federal agency says previous methods of calculating the graduation rate were “unreliable, while the new, common metric can be used by states, districts and schools to promote greater accountability and to develop strategies that will reduce dropout rates.”

Changes in outcomes under the new method “should not be viewed as measures of progress but rather as a more accurate snapshot,” agency analysts said.

DOE said the new measurement accounts for students who drop out or don’t earn a regular high school diploma.

But the data suggests that if Gov. Rick Scott wants more colleges issuing $10,000 degrees, Florida schools need to do a better job getting students through graduates.


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