SIOUX CITY | Iowa’s 2010-2011 high school graduation rate led the nation despite a small dip in performance during the past few years, according to the U.S. Department of Education Monday.
Iowa topped the nation with 88 percent of students graduating in four years followed by Vermont and Wisconsin tied for 87 percent. Iowa’s graduation rate was down from 89 percent in 2009-2010, and almost 91 percent in 2004-2005.
Iowa Director of Education Jason Glass praised the ranking, but said the state still needs to take steps to address education reform.
“Iowa has the highest graduation rate in the nation because of the leadership and commitment that Iowa’s teachers and school leaders demonstrate every day,” he said in a written statement. “A high graduation rate is one key benchmark in our state’s effort to become a world-class education system.”
Glass added that the state needs to take steps to ensure that students are prepared for college, careers and life after high school. That’s especially true when working with minority students and those living in poverty.
The data released Monday shows that Iowa and the rest of the nation are struggling with a graduation achievement gap when it comes to minority and poverty students
The data showed that 90 percent of white students, 73 percent of black students and 75 percent of Hispanic students graduated in Iowa in 2010-2011. Nearly 78 percent of students in poverty graduated.
“We have a moral imperative to address those gaps and to give Iowa’s children the educational foundation they need to succeed in life,” Glass said.
While Iowa’s graduation rate has dipped slightly, Sioux City’s has increased.
Sioux City’s graduation rate in 2010-2011 was 84 percent, up from 79 percent the year before, according to the districts annual progress report.
Superintendent Paul Gausman said the district’s success is tied to work put in by teachers and administrators.
“We celebrate the work we’ve done, it’s a team effort,” he said.
The tri-state region also did well on the national stage according to the report. Nebraska’s 2010-2011 graduation rate was 86 percent and South Dakota’s was 83 percent.
The state with the lowest graduation rate was Nevada at 62 percent. The District of Columbia came in lower with a rate of 59 percent.
Data for Oklahoma, Idaho and Kentucky was not available.
This year’s graduation report marks the first time the data has been standardized, allowing for a state-by-state comparison. State’s previously used different measurements to gauge their graduation rates, making previous comparisons unreliable.
Education reporter Nate Robson can be contacted at 712-293-4313 or at firstname.lastname@example.org