By Education Week Staff
There seems to be no consensus about whether the across-the-board increases in U.S. graduation rates reported by the federal government last week are the result of No Child Left Behind-era accountability mechanisms or the data-based decisionmaking stressed under the Obama administration, more early-warning systems to identify potential dropouts, or fewer high school exit exams.
But whatever the reason, the numbers themselves gave educators and policymakers reason for cautious optimism. The new data show that U.S. students are graduating at record numbers for the fifth year in a row, with improvements for students of different racial and language backgrounds, as well as those in poverty or with disabilities.
The graduation rate for the high school class of 2015-16 is nearly a whole point higher than the one for the previous year’s class, which was 83.2 percent, according to the new data from the National Center for Education Statistics. The rate measures the proportion of each freshman class that earns a diploma four years later.
“The improvements shown are encouraging. Every high school graduation is an important milestone worthy of celebration. But it’s important to remember graduation is but another step in a lifelong journey,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a tweet a day after the results were released.
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