The good news: Both the state’s and the nation’s high-school students in the class of 2016 graduated at a higher rate than in years past.
The bad news: Compared with other states, Washington’s graduation rate ranks in the bottom half.
According to data released Monday, the national rate climbed to 84 percent, the highest since the National Center for Education Statistics six years ago changed the way it required states to calculate graduation rates
Among all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Iowa’s graduation rate was the highest, at 91 percent, and Washington, D.C., was at the bottom, with 69 percent of all students graduating within four years. Washington’s rate was 79.7 percent.
Broken down by racial and ethnic groups, Asian students had the highest graduation rate nationally, at 91 percent, followed by white students (88 percent), Hispanic students (79 percent), black students (76 percent) and Native students (72 percent).
About 78 percent of low-income students graduated on time, according to the data. The rate for students with limited English proficiency was 70 percent.
The rankings aren’t definitive, as each state has different requirements for students to graduate from high school. And some states offer alternative, sometimes less-stringent options for students to earn a diploma.
The numbers from the national center also differ slightly – 1 percentage point or less – from the state rates released in February by Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. For example, the state reported the graduation rate for the class of 2016 was slightly slower – at 79.1 percent.
The state superintendent’s office is reviewing the center’s statistics and methodology, said spokesman Nate Olson. The state also measures how many students graduate within five years; that rate for the class of 2016 was 82 percent.
Washington’s graduation rates for the class of 2017 will likely be released later this month, according to the state superintendent’s office, though some districts have already released their rates. Lake Washington’s rate was 93 percent, for example, and Highline’s was 78.8 percent.