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Iowa’s high school graduation rate is 91 percent

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Long-term trend shows increase, despite slight one-year dip

DES MOINES – Iowa’s high school graduation rate continues to show long-term progress, although the state experienced a slight decrease in 2017, according to figures released today by the Iowa Department of Education.

State data show 91 percent of students in Iowa’s Class of 2017 graduated within four years, down from 91.3 percent for the Class of 2016. Since 2011, Iowa’s four-year graduation rate has climbed 2.7 percentage points overall, with significant long-term gains in nearly every student demographic subgroup (see chart below). For example, graduation rates for African American students have increased four years in a row and by 9.1 percentage points since 2011. 

Iowa has set a 95 percent goal for the statewide graduation rate.

“High school graduation is an essential step for every student because it opens the door to postsecondary education and training opportunities that lead to rewarding jobs,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “While I’m disappointed in this one-year decrease, our long-term trend is still on the rise and I’m confident we have the right roadmap in place for education.”

Iowa graduation rates are calculated with a formula established by the U.S. Department of Education. Unique student identification numbers allow school districts to account for all ninth-grade students as they move through high school. At the state level, the method helps determine when a student graduates, even if the student has switched districts in Iowa during high school.

Iowa’s five-year graduation rate – which reflects students who were part of a graduating class but took an extra year to finish high school – was 93.4 percent for the Class of 2016, up from 93.3 percent for the Class of 2015.

Iowa’s annual dropout rate reflects the percentage of students in grades 9-12 who drop out of school during a single year. The annual dropout rate remained at 2.8 percent from the 2015-16 school year to the 2016-17 school year. The state’s 2016-17 dropout rate represents 4,183 students in grades 9 through 12.

The following graphic shows a comparison of Iowa’s annual dropout rates dating back to the 2010-11 school year:

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