Iowa has highest graduation rate in U.S.

The U.S. Department of Education says Iowa has the highest high school graduation rate in the country.

According to a new state-by-state report, 88% of Iowa high school students graduated within four years of starting high school.   Wisconsin and Vermont followed at a close second place with an 87% graduation rate.

Illinois ranks number 10 in the country with an 84% graduation rate.

Idaho, Ohio, Kentucky and Oklahoma tied for being ranked last but only because no data was available from those states.  The District of Columbia had the lowest reported graduation rate at 59%.

This was the first year states used a uniform method for calculating graduation rates, giving a more accurate snapshot of each state’s performance and comparison to other states.

Bettendorf Community Schools Superintendent, Dr. Theron Schutte, says his district’s efforts to better improve education among impoverished students has led to some of the best graduation rates they’ve seen, despite having to do more with less because of a tightened budget situation all school district have faced over the last few years.

“Fortunately, we live in a community that’s extremely supportive and there’s a lot of efforts outside of what the state provides to offset some of the costs,” said Schutte.

He gives a lot of credit to the Community Foundation, which seeks to set a common graduation rate goal for students in the Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities.

Along with the United Way, Achieve Quad Cities set out to increase the graduation rate by 5-percent in the last five years.

They’ve exceeded that number, with a graduation rate that’s gone from 82.5% in 2008-2009 to 87.9% in 2010-2011 school year.

While being number one in this category of student achievement is great, Dr. Schutte says there are still improvements to be made.

“We still have a long way to go to do it, whether it’s children of poverty special education and probably certain minority groups performance, which, I think, is directly related to poverty more than anything else,” he said.

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