The nation’s high-school graduation rate has reached a record 83.2 percent, continuing a steady increase that shows improvement across all racial and ethnic groups, according to federal data released Monday.
President Barack Obama welcomed the higher rate as good news, but the gains come against a backdrop of decreasing scores on national math and reading tests.
Education Secretary John B. King Jr. acknowledged worries about sagging achievement. “A higher graduation rate is meaningful progress, but certainly we share the concern that we have more work to do to make sure every student graduates ready for what’s next,” he said.
Obama visited Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, a magnet school in the District of Columbia, to tout the graduation rate for the 2014-15 school year. “More African-American and Latino students are graduating than ever before,” he said.
Gains also were seen for students with disabilities and those from low-income families.
The District of Columbia made the most progress in the U.S. in 2014-15 compared with the previous year, improving its graduation rate by 7 percentage points.
Obama applauded the high school for graduating all its seniors. “It’s been a while since I did math, but 100 percent is good. You can’t do better than that,” Obama told the audience, which included King, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Mayor Muriel Bowser and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
At the same time, he also warned the students they would need more than a high-school diploma to succeed in today’s job market. They would need critical thinking skills.