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Helmut Schmidt, Published June 08 2012

North Dakota graduation rate 2nd-highest in nation

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s high school graduation rate of 85.9 percent ranks second in the nation, Education Week’s 2012 Diplomas Count report shows.

The rate is the result for graduates from the 2008-09 school year, Education Week said.

New Jersey was first at 87.4 percent, the Diplomas Count report stated.

Wisconsin graduated 83.8 percent of its students, Minnesota 82.6 percent, and Pennsylvania and Iowa 80.5 percent, the report stated.

South Dakota graduated 69.5 percent of its students, the report stated.

The U.S. graduation rate was 73.4 percent for the class of 2009, an increase of 1.7 percent and the highest level since the late 1970s, the report stated.

Much of the improvement was attributed to a 5.5 percent rise in graduation rates among Latinos, and a 1.7 percent point gain for black students, offsetting modest drops nationally in graduation rates for students of Asian and American Indian heritage, the report stated. Rates for white students remained largely unchanged.

“The Education Week graduation report clearly demonstrates that North Dakota ranks among the best in the nation,” said Wayne Sanstead, North Dakota’s superintendent of public instruction. “I believe we should be encouraged by these results and recognize the accomplishments of our students, parents, teachers and schools.”

North Dakota’s class of 2009 saw 88.76 percent of white students graduate. For students of Asian descent, the rate was 91.3 percent; blacks, 78.62 percent; and American Indians, 54.97 percent, the report stated.

Of special education students, 73.03 percent graduated, while 70.47 percent of English Language Learners graduated, the report stated.

Wealth made a big difference in who graduated in North Dakota, the report shows. Of students coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, 75.55 percent graduated, while 88.58 percent of those who don’t face economic disadvantages graduated.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583