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Briefs: State grad rates released

Colorado’s high school graduation rate of 74 percent puts it in the lower third of states nationally, according to statistics just released by the U.S. Department of Education.

Thirty-four states reported higher graduation rates than Colorado, which was tied with South Carolina. Among neighboring states, only New Mexico, at 63 percent, reported a lower rate than Colorado.

The department released the 2010-11 statistics on Monday, explaining that was “the first year for which all states used a common, rigorous measure” of four-year graduation rates. Variations in previous counting and reporting methods didn’t allow for accurate comparisons among states, a DOE news release said.

The new counting method was required by 2008 federal regulations, but 2010-11 was the first year compiled. The department said the rates, as reported by states, are preliminary and that final rates will be released later.

Colorado officials reported the state’s rate earlier this year (see news release and find more state graduation data here).

Here are the rates reported for Colorado as broken down by demographic groups:

  • American Indian – 52 percent
  • Asian/Pacific Islander – 81 percent
  • Black – 65 percent
  • Hispanic – 60 percent
  • White non-Hispanic – 81 percent
  • Children with disabilities – 53 percent
  • Limited English proficiency – 53 percent
  • Economically disadvantaged – 62 percent

Officials at the Colorado Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state with the highest reported graduation rate was Iowa, at 88 percent. The District of Columbia reported the lowest rate, 59 percent, while the Bureau of Indian Education reported 61 percent. Data was not reported for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico.

Read the DOE news release and see the state-by-state table.

→ The Mapleton and St. Vrain Valley districts have been named finalists in the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top district competition, which is offering winning districts a share of $400 million in grants that are intended to be used for personalized learning programs that will improve student achievement and educator effectiveness and close achievement gaps.

The 61 finalists nationwide represent more than 200 school districts and were chosen from 372 initial applications representing more than 1,100 districts. Smaller districts were allowed to apply in groups. More than 30 Colorado school districts applied.

The unsuccessful Colorado applicants included Adams 12-Five Star, the Brush district on behalf of itself and three other districts, the Center district and 13 others, Denver Public Schools, Durango schools with four other districts, Harrison, Poudre and Pueblo City.

The department expects to select 15-25 winners for grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million, depending on district enrollments, and to announce those by Dec. 31. See list of finalists and full list of applicants.

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