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October 31, 2014

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Nevada’s high school graduation rate is worst in the nation

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Leila Navidi

Boys line up backstage during the Chaparral High School commencement ceremony at the Orleans Arena on Friday, June 15, 2012.

Although the average graduation rate nationally hit a record high of 80 percent in 2012, Nevada had the lowest rate in the country at 63 percent, according to a report released today.

Four education organizations — America’s Promise Alliance, Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises and Everyone Graduates Center — presented their annual report on state-by-state graduation rates at its GradNation summit today.

Nationally, more than eight in 10 high school seniors received a diploma in 2012, according to the GradNation report. Researchers are projecting an average graduation rate of 90 percent nationally by 2020.

Nevada, however, has a long way to go to reach that milestone. Just 63 percent of Nevada high school seniors graduated in 2012.

Alaska, Georgia, New Mexico and Oregon joined Nevada at the bottom of the list. Only Oregon and Nevada had graduation rates below 70 percent.

Iowa, Vermont, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Texas had the highest rates at 88 percent or 89 percent. Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma weren’t included in the report, because they received federal permission to delay using a new graduation rate calculation.

The Clark County School District posted a 62 percent graduation rate, which ranked 29th among 39 major urban school systems nationally.

However, Clark County had the third highest number of “non-graduates” nationally. There were 9,436 Clark County students in the class of 2012 who failed to graduate in four years. Only the New York Public Schools and the Los Angeles Unified School District had more high school dropouts.

Graduation rates among different student groups varied widely in Nevada.

Multiracial, Asian and white students had the highest graduation rates at 78 percent, 74 percent and 72 percent, respectively. Hispanic, Native American and black students had the lowest graduation rates at 55 percent, 54 percent and 48 percent, respectively.

Nevada’s special needs and non-English-speaking students had the lowest graduation rates in the state. Less than a quarter of students with disabilities and English-language learners graduated in 2012.

Poor children in Nevada have the lowest chance of graduation nationally. Just 58 percent of low-income students graduated in 2012, the lowest rate nationally.

Nevada had the lowest or second-lowest graduation rate in the country among black, Hispanic, children with disabilities, English-language learners and economically disadvantaged students.

The GradNation report used 2012 graduation rate data from the federal government. More recent figures from the Nevada Education Department – released in January – show that the state's graduation rate improved to 71 percent in 2013, up 12 percent from 2012. Clark County posted a 72 percent graduation rate in 2013, up 16 percent from 2012.

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