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California's high school graduation rate ranks 31st among states, DC

File photo: California senators approved a measure that would fix a problem that kept 5,000 seniors in the Class of 2015 from taking the high school exit exam and graduating.
Crystal Marie Lopez/Flickr
File photo: Eleanor Roosevelt High School students line up at a graduation ceremony in Corona, Calif.

High school graduation data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Monday reveals California’s doing better than some big states in getting students out the door, but not as well as others.

California’s 80.4 percent graduation rate is in the ballpark of the national average of 81.4 percent based on 2012-2013 numbers, the latest countrywide numbers issued by education officials. The state's graduation rate ranked it as 31st among the states and the District of Columbia.

The numbers also showed persistent gaps between graduation rates for white and Asian students and those for African-American and Hispanic students.

In California, white students recorded an 87.7 graduation rate, up about 1 percent from the previous year. Asian students had a 91.6 graduation rate, up .5 percent; African American students, 68.1 percent, up 5.3 percent; and Hispanic students, 75.7 percent, up 2 percent.

California's graduation rate for Hispanic students ranks better than Nevada, Arizona, and New York. But Texas stood out as a lone star. Among the nation’s biggest states, it did the best graduating Hispanic students at 85.1 percent, about 10 percent better than California.

Texas also did better than California in graduating black students — 84.1 percent of African American students in Texas graduated.

California's incremental improvement follows changes in recent years at some of the state’s low-performing, urban campuses. School officials have broken up many of those public schools into smaller campuses and some school districts carried out complete overhauls, with staff reapplying for their jobs.

Nationally, graduation rates for black and Hispanic students increased. Between 2011 - 2013 graduation rates for these two groups rose nearly 4 percent, improving more than the national average overall.

“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities and students is paying off,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student – no matter their zip code — for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength.”