Education | National

Education Department cites increase in Indian graduation rate

Enrollment day at Window Rock High School, a public high school on the Navajo Nation. Photo from Facebook

More and more American Indian and Alaska Native students are graduating from high school but they are still falling behind their peers, according to data released by the Education Department today.

During the 2012-2013 school year, 69.7 percent of Indian students finished high school. The rate marked an improvement from the two years prior.

Despite the gains, Indian students had the lower graduation rate of all other ethnic and racial groups. The rates among Asian/Pacific Islander (88.7) and White (86.6) students were significantly higher while the rate among Hispanic students (75.2) was noticeably higher as well.

Only the rate among African American students (70.7) was comparable to that of American Indian and Alaska Native students.

“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities and students is paying off. This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release. “While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student – no matter their zip code - for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength.”

Indian students in some states, however, are doing better than their counterparts. Alabama (86) and Texas (86) had the highest graduation rates overall while Oklahoma (84.4) ranked near the top.

But with the exception of these three states, plus Florida and Connecticut, the rest of the top 15 states with high Indian student graduation rates are not home to significant Indian populations or a significant number of tribes.

In contrast, states with a significant Indian presence had lower graduation rates. This end of the spectrum included Wyoming (41), which had the lowest rate overall, and South Dakota (49), the second lowest.

Minnesota (49), Oregon (52) and Washington (56) fared poorly as well.

The vast majority of American Indian and Alaska Native students attend public schools.

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