High school graduation rates have reached a record high of 83.2 percent, continuing a steady increase that shows improvement across all ethnic groups, the White House said Monday.
President Barack Obama spoke Monday morning about the gains during his visit to Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. The school graduated 100 percent of its seniors last year, and the president highlighted those efforts as an example of how the city's graduation rates grew faster than anywhere else in the country.
While the District of Columbia has a lower graduation rate than most states, the city improved its graduation rate last year by 7 percentage points, going from 61.4 percent to 68.5 percent on-time graduates.
"We live in a global economy. And when you graduate, you're no longer going to be competing just with somebody here in D.C. for a great job," the president told the students.
"You're competing with somebody on the other side of the world, in China or in India, because jobs can go wherever they want because of the internet and because of technology," he said. "And the best jobs are going to go to the people who are the best educated — whether in India or China or anywhere in the world."
Increases in the graduation rate for the 2014-15 school year were seen for all ethnic groups, as well as for disabled students and students from low-income families.
Still, there were significant differences.
Asian Americans had a 90.2 percent graduation rate, while whites were at 87.6 percent, followed by Hispanics at 77.8 percent, African-Americans at 74.6 percent and Native Americans at 71.6 percent.
The growth in graduation rates has been steady since states adopted a uniform way of tracking students. In 2008, the Bush administration ordered states to begin using a formula that is considered a more accurate count of how many actually finish school.
The White House said the graduation rate has increased by about 4 percentage points since the 2010-11 school year. Obama frequently cites the increase when he talks to groups about progress made during his presidency.
The White House said money invested through the Race to the Top grant program had helped improve some of the nation's lowest-performing schools. It also said that millions of students have gained access to high-speed broadband in their classrooms and that the states and federal government have helped hundreds of thousands more children gain access to preschool education programs.
"We have made a lot of progress in terms of making sure that young people across the country get the kind of great education that you're getting here at Banneker," Obama said. "And I am really proud of what we've accomplished. I'm proud of what the District of Columbia has accomplished."