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December 11, 2018

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Nevada’s high school graduation rate third lowest in nation

Turnaround: Year in Review

Leila Navidi

Senior Raequan Charingto feigns exhaustion during a science proficiency exam tutoring session for seniors in the classroom of science teacher Sergio Lopez at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas on Monday, April 23, 2012.

Class of 2013 graduation rate

More than 13,000 Nevada students in the Class of 2013 will fail to graduate, according to Education Week.

Nationally, a little more than 1 million students will fail to graduate this year.

The bulk of these nongraduates are minority students.

The graduation rate for Hispanic students in Nevada is 55 percent. For black students, it's 45 percent. However, it's the worst for Native American students: 38 percent.

For comparison, Nevada graduates 76 percent of its Asian students and 69 percent of its white students.

In fact, the Clark County School District was still named the nation's third biggest "dropout epicenter," behind New York City Public Schools and Los Angeles Unified School District.

Education Week projects 9,552 nongraduates in Clark County's class of 2013, up from 5,754 nongraduates last year.

Despite making some gains, Nevada has the third worst graduation rate in the nation, according to an Education Week report released last week.

Over the past decade, graduation rates have improved in 46 states — including Nevada — ranging from a fraction of a percentage point to more than 31 percentage points.

This growth has propelled the national graduation rate to its highest point in 40 years, a significant milestone for America's public education system.

Nearly three-quarters of students in the class of 2010 graduated from high school with a regular diploma. The last time this happened was back in 1973.

However, while Nevada's graduation rate rose over the past decade, it is still far from reaching this milestone.

Between 2000 and 2010, the Silver State's graduation rate grew by 7.4 percentage points to 62.7 percent. For comparison, the national graduation rate went up by 7.9 percentage points to 74.7 percent over the same decade.

Despite these gains, Nevada still has the third lowest graduation rate among states in the country, beating only South Carolina (61.5 percent) and New Mexico (59.4 percent), according to the education magazine's 2013 Diploma Counts report. Washington, D.C. had the lowest graduation rate in the nation at 57 percent.

To reach the national average, Nevada must boost its graduation rate by 12 percentage points. To match the highest graduation rate in the country — Vermont's 85 percent — Nevada has to improve by 22 percentage points.

Some states were able to boost their graduation rates significantly over the past decade, according to Education Week.

Ten states were able to post double-digit gains between 2000 and 2010. These states included Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.

However, posting double-digit gains may not be sufficient for Nevada to meet and exceed the national average.

South Carolina, which had the worst graduation rate in the country in 2000, made tremendous growth in its graduation rate, gaining 13.1 percentage points. However, a decade later, the Palmetto State still has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation, according to Education Week's report.

Two states made exceptional gains in their graduation rates over the past decade: Tennessee and Florida.

In 2000, both states were graduating less than half of their students. A decade later, Tennessee is graduating more than 80 percent of its children. Florida, which also has a high population of English-language learner students, has nearly reached the national graduation rate average.

These states were able to improve their graduation rates — by 31.5 and 23 percentage points respectively — through a variety of education reform efforts and funding targeted toward helping minority students. Some of these reform efforts, such as the school and teacher evaluation systems, have been controversial.

Only time will tell if Nevada, which has been copying education reform efforts from Florida and Colorado, will reap similar benefits.

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