According to Education Week, New Jersey’s graduation rate is estimated at 87%, far above the national average of 73%. New Jersey ranks No. 1 in the nation.
These graduation rates are based on 2009 data and published in Education Week’s annual “Diplomas Count” report issued June 7, 2012.
The New Jersey data also showed that 90% of white students and 74% of black and Hispanic students completed high school. However, New Jersey’s black and Hispanic students far outpace the national average of 59% of black students and 63% of Hispanic students graduating. In fact, black and Hispanic students in New Jersey complete high school at a rate that is similar to the national average for all students and only 5% below the national average for white students.
The Diplomas Count report also describes New Jersey’s strong progress in raising high school completion rates. New Jersey’s rate has increased by 11 percentage points in ten years. This progress outpaces the average gains made nationally – an increase of 7 percentage points – and places New Jersey’s level of growth above that of 42 other states and the District of Columbia.
“Our state’s public schools continue to lead the nation in educational attainment,” said Danielle Farrie, ELC Research Director, “and we’ve made strong progress to improve graduation rates among students of color.”
ELC Executive Director David Sciarra emphasized that New Jersey’s high rankings and gains among student subgroups are the result of strategic investments in equitable funding and school improvement programs made over the last decade, sparked by the landmark Abbott rulings.
“Unlike so many other states, New Jersey has achieved its high performing status by supporting effective teaching and research-based programs to strengthen all public schools, especially those serving our poorest neighborhoods,” Mr. Sciarra said.
Dr. Farrie noted that the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) recently released graduation rates calculated using a new, federally mandated formula. While the new estimates are lower than those previously reported by NJDOE, the difference is due to a change in methodology, not an actual decrease in graduation rates. The Diplomas Count report, using yet another methodology, provides year-to-year comparisons and shows that New Jersey has, in fact, continued to make progress even in recent years.
Mr. Sciarra also noted that, despite the narrative of urban school failure used by Governor Christie, “New Jersey’s first-place finish and above average progress are proof that our high schools are the best in the country. Unfortunately, the Christie administration is pursuing reform strategies – closing schools, reducing funding, and privatizing education – that have no track record of success. Instead, we need to continue with proven strategies to sustain our historic efforts to close persistent gaps in student achievement.”
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