It’s official. Wisconsin has the second-highest high school graduation rate in the country.

The U.S. Education Department reported Monday for the first time a list of state graduation rates based on a uniform formula developed by the National Governors Association.

The new method tracks a cohort of ninth graders who graduated with a diploma in 2011. Wisconsin was one of 26 states that saw graduation rates decline under the new measurement.

Wisconsin officials have long touted the state as having one of the top graduation rates in the country, but it was never an apples-to-apples comparison until now. According to the Education Department, “the varying methods formerly used by states to report graduation rates made comparisons between states unreliable.”

The new graduation data show:

• Wisconsin’s 87 percent graduation rate ties for second with Vermont. Iowa’s 88 percent graduation rate was tops. Nevada was the state with the lowest graduation rate at 62 percent (Washington D.C. and the Bureau of Indian Education had lower rates).

• Wisconsin’s black-white graduation gap is third highest in the country behind Nevada and Minnesota. Wisconsin’s 64 percent black student graduation rate is 15th from the bottom, while it’s 91 percent graduation rate for white students is second highest only to Texas.

• Wisconsin’s graduation gap between Hispanic and white students is ninth highest. The state’s 72 percent Hispanic graduation rate tied for 19th highest.

• Wisconsin’s 74 percent low-income graduation rate tied for 12th highest. South Dakota had the highest rate at 86 percent and Nevada had the lowest at 53 percent.

• Wisconsin’s 67 percent graduation rate among students with disabilities tied for 13th highest. Again, South Dakota had the highest rate at 84 percent and Nevada had the lowest at 23 percent.

• Wisconsin’s 66 percent graduation rate among English language learners was 15th highest. South Dakota and Vermont had the highest rate at 82 percent and Arizona had the lowest at 25 percent.

Note: The data didn't include Kentucky and Idaho because they won’t report updated graduation rates until 2013 and 2014. Graduation data for Oklahoma and Vermont is not broken down by race.

Matthew DeFour covers state government for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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(2) comments


I think they missed a group. What is the graduation rate of a one legged, dark haired, three toothed student, who rides a schwinn,listens to funk music, who has parents of Norwegian and Liberian heritage? about we just graduate these kids with actual job skills? I know, I know, it's demeaning and pidgeon holing kids to place them in shop, home ec, and/or classes that they could actually use to acquire a well paying career!


Well, that is nice if they graduate. But what are we teaching them? Seems to me, I'm still reading about Wisconsin companies crying out for skilled labor...

Parents? Are youall using the WI Public School System as a dumping ground? I know my faith in the WI Public School system has been wiped out by the shenanigans of a certain Governor and those who support him with 53% of the vote.

Then, I take the time to question my more conservative friends about how to improve education, and, find out they resent even feeding breakfast or lunch to the school kids. When, for some of those kids, including my Step Father in times past, it is the only full meal they get in a day...

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