Florida High School Graduation Rates Trail National Average

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research and Evaluation Analyst

October 27, 2016

According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, the national high school graduation rate reached a record high of 83 percent in the 2014-2015 school year. However, Florida lagged behind the nation by five points at a rate of 78 percent—ranking 42nd in the nation just below its neighboring state of Georgia (79%).

Florida’s Black students experienced the largest gain in high school graduation over a five-year period from 59 percent to 68 percent. At the same time, they were 15 percent less likely to finish high school in 2015 compared to their White peers.

Furthermore, gaps in high school graduation have remained steady between White students and their Native American and Hispanic counterparts across this five-year timeframe. In the 2014-2015 school year, 77 percent of Latino and 76 percent of Native American students finished high school.

Florida students from low-income families also experienced notable gains in high school graduation, increasing from 60 percent in 2011 to 70 percent in 2015.  While this is positive, the 2015 national high school graduation rate for economically disadvantaged students was six points higher at 76 percent.

Florida’s steady increase in high school graduation rates over the last five years is encouraging, and the most recent 2015 data indicate an all-time high in the state. At the same time, its current ranking among the lowest quintile of states indicates there is significant work to be done. Data reveal a critical need to not only increase Florida’s graduation rate overall but to also focus on strategies to promote the success of minority and low-income students.

Helios Education Foundation utilizes data such as high school graduation rates to inform its investments, with an emphasis on helping traditionally underserved populations (e.g., first-generation, low-income, and students of color). By fostering a college-going culture and advancing the academic preparedness of all students beginning in early childhood, the Foundation seeks to increase the number of young adults graduating from high school ready for college and career, as well as entering and completing postsecondary education.

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