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The U.S. high school graduation rate has reached a milestone high of 80 percent.
According to a report based on Education Department statistics, four out of five high school students graduated in 2012. Researchers predict that this number will go up to 90 percent by the year 2020, reports the Associated Press.
“As a country, we owe a debt of gratitude to the teachers, students and families whose hard work has helped us reach an 80 percent high school graduation rate,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, according to The Washington Post.
Despite the high percentage, there is still a large gap between the graduation rate of Whites and Asians compared to the rate of African-Americans and Hispanics.
White students had a graduation rate of 86 percent and Asians had a rate of 88 percent, while only 69 percent of African-Americans and 73 percent of Hispanics graduated.
“That 20 percent represents 718,000 young people, among them a sharply disproportionate share of African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans,” Duncan stated.
Rates also varied among different states. States such as Iowa, Vermont, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Texas were above 80 percent, while Alaska, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and Nevada were below the average.
“High school graduation may have once been a finish line, but today it is just a beginning,” Duncan said, pointing out that we must now also focus on the slipping college graduation rates.