Oregon's graduation rate improves, no longer worst among states - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon's graduation rate improves, no longer worst among states

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High school graduation rates for most states, including Oregon and Washington, continue to improve, according to preliminary data released Monday by the Obama administration.

The majority of states also are showing gains for black and Hispanic students.

The Education Department says preliminary data indicate 36 states saw higher four-year graduation rates for the 2013-2014 school year. The biggest gains were in Delaware, Alabama, Oregon, West Virginia and Illinois.

Oregon moved up to 47th in the nation in 2014, with an overall graduation rate of 72 percent. It's a small but notable improvement from the bottom spot among states the previous year. Only the District of Columbia ranked lower than Oregon in the 2012-2013 school year.

Washington moved up two spots, to 38th overall, with a rate of 78.2 percent.

Five states had declines: Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The District of Columbia also slipped.

Eight states, the department said, showed no improvement over the previous school year. They were: Colorado, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas. Idaho did not have complete numbers to report.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the numbers were encouraging.

"By all indications, it looks like the nation will take another step in the right direction in terms of graduation rates," Duncan told reporters. The nation's overall graduation rate stands at 81 percent, an all-time high.

The data reflect a new, common metric that states began using in 2010. Before that, states measured graduation rates in different ways.

Final graduation rate data will be released next spring.

The numbers show the District of Columbia with the lowest graduation rate, 61.4 percent. Iowa had the highest at 90.5 percent.

Duncan is retiring from his post in December to return home to Illinois and his family.

John King, who will become acting secretary upon Duncan's departure, praised state improvements but said, "We still worry that too many kids are trapped in schools that are struggling, and those schools need support to get better."

To help troubled schools, he suggested turnaround programs that focus on professional development or promoting partnerships with community-based groups to meet the outside-of-school needs that might get in the way of learning.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation contributed to this report.

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