Diplomas Count 2011,” a report released this week, indicates that despite improvements Florida’s high school graduation rate is still almost 10 percentage points below the national average.

The report shows that Florida’s graduation rate (.pdf) increased from 51.6 percent in 1997 to almost 64 percent in 2008, an increase of 13 percentage points. Black students in Florida show a 53 percent graduation rate, Hispanic students a 60 percent rate and white students a 69 percent graduation rate.

Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center issued the “Diplomas Count” report that indicates that the U.S. high school graduation rate stands at 72 percent, the highest level in more than two decades. The report uses U.S. Department of Education data for the class of 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

But, “despite the marked progress highlighted in the report, nearly 3 out of every 10 students in America’s public schools still fail to earn a diploma. That amounts to 1.2 million students falling through the cracks of the high school pipeline every year, or 6,400 students lost every day.”

Even though the graduation rate increased between 1998 and 2008, the repot also highlights that historical disparities persist:

  • Asian-Americans and whites remain the nation’s highest-performing groups, posting graduation rates of 83 percent and 78 percent, respectively, for the class of 2008. Fifty-eight percent of Latinos finished high school with a diploma, while 57 percent of African-Americans and 54 percent of Native Americans graduated.
  • High school graduation rates for minority males consistently fall near or below the 50 percent mark.
  • On average, 68 percent of male students earn a diploma compared with 75 percent of female students, a 7-percentage-point gender gap that has remained virtually unchanged for years.

“Diplomas Count” uses a Cumulative Promotion Index method to allow Editorial Projects in Education to project the number of 2007-2008 ninth-graders who will graduate in 2011.

In Florida, for example, out of 231,ooo 2007-2008 ninth graders, in 2011 a little over 148,000 of them would be high school graduates and 83,500 of them would be non-graduates. That adds up to 464 students lost each school day.

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