WRKF

graduation rate

It’s been nearly 13 years since Hurricane Katrina decimated the city and its school system. And a lot has changed since then. Now the city is the first, large school district in the nation where nearly all students attend charter schools. But the reforms are controversial, and have left many wondering, did they work?

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama had some sure-fire applause lines: "More of our kids are graduating than ever before" and "Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high."

Which raised some interesting questions: "Is that really true?" and "Why?" and "How do we know?" and "So what?"

A seed was planted that grew into our project this week examining that number. Our reporting shows many of the individual stories behind a single statistic: 81 percent, the current U.S. graduation rate.

The national high school graduation rate is an impressive 81 percent. So impressive, President Obama highlighted it in his State of the Union address this year: "Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high."

Sound the trumpets. This is a really big deal. There's just one problem: The president didn't explain how we got here. For the past few months, the NPR Ed Team and reporters from member stations in more than a dozen states have been digging into these numbers to find out.

Athens Technical College math professor Vidya Nahar assists a student in her newly re-designed learning support math course.
Maura Walz / Southern Education Desk

Georgia higher education officials have a goal: by 2020, they want 60 percent of young adults in the state to earn some kind of college credential.

They’ve got a long way to go. In 2011, just over 36 percent of 24 to 34-year-olds in that state had earned an Associates Degree or better, about another 6 percent have a certificate.

LSU Graduation Rate Reaches All-Time High

Oct 24, 2012

Louisiana State University announced Wednesday a record 67 percent of students who started college in 2006 graduated within six years. That’s up from 62 percent of the cohort that started in 2005.