TN high school graduation rate increasing, now 8th best in nation

A new report says Tennessee in 2013 ranked eighth nationally for its high school graduation rates. And the state isn’t far from reaching the U.S. goal of 90 percent by 2020, according to the Times-Free Press.

The report, “Building a Grad Nation,” found 86.3 percent of Tennessee high school students graduated on time, meaning getting their diploma within four years. The national rate was 81.4 percent.

Iowa ranked No. 1 with an 89.7 percent graduation rate.

“Tennessee overall is doing extraordinarily well,” said Jennifer DePaoli, a senior education adviser with Washington, D.C.-based Civic Enterprises and a co-author of the report, sponsored by several national organizations.

The state led the Southeast or came close to it in some subcategories such as on-time graduation rates for students who come from low-income backgrounds. Other categories include minorities and students with various disabilities.

…For Tennessee to attain the 90 percent goal, it needs only to add another 2,595 on top of those who graduated in 2013.

But that could be easier said than done because improvement becomes harder even as states improve, the report notes. For example, Tennessee’s graduation rate increased by just 0.3 percentage points from 2011 to 2013.

“We’re seeing a similarity in Tennessee that we’re seeing in a lot of other states where the closer that those states get to 90 percent, the harder and harder it seems,” DePaoli said