Idaho’s graduation rate falls in national rankings

Idaho’s 2017 high school graduation rate ranked No. 43 in the nation, according to a new federal report.

Idaho dropped three spots in the national rankings, down from No. 40 in 2016.

While the National Center for Education Statistics rankings are troubling, they are also more than 18 months old. They do not reflect numbers for Idaho’s class of 2018, which improved significantly.

Breaking down the NCES numbers

A few comparisons from the 2017 numbers, which NCES released Thursday:

  • The national graduation rate reached 84.6 percent, another record. The national graduation rate has improved for six consecutive years. Idaho’s graduation rate was 79.7 percent.
  • Across almost every demographic group, Idaho’s graduation rate lagged behind the national average. The one exception: Idaho’s grad rate for students with limited English proficiency came in significantly higher than the national average. (See the table above for details.)
  • Idaho came in ahead of only seven states and the District of Columbia. Most states near the bottom of the rankings are also in the West: Washington (79.4 percent), Colorado (79.1 percent), Alaska (78.2 percent), Arizona (78 percent), Oregon (76.7 percent) and New Mexico (71.1 percent), last in the nation.

The numbers, in context

The grim NCES report went live just days after state officials hailed a solid uptick in graduation rates.

On Jan. 17, the State Department of Education released graduation rates for the class of 2018.

After only a minuscule improvement in 2017, Idaho’s new numbers climbed to 80.6 percent.

“The most important thing to remember is that these numbers represent children, and the state and our schools are committed to do everything we can to help those students find success in high school and beyond,” said state superintendent Sherri Ybarra, noting that the state’s graduating class grew by more than 350 students.

The SDE also continued tracking the class of 2017 and noted improvement. Adding in the number of students who took a fifth year to complete high school, the graduation rate improved from 79.7 percent to 82 percent.

NCES did not release similar, five-year graduation rates for the rest of the nation.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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