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D.C. has lowest graduation rate in the U.S.

Thursday - 11/29/2012, 6:25am  ET

graduation
A new data collection method used by the Department of Education provides a more accurate snapshot of graduation rates in the U.S., the department says. Here, graduation rates are listed from highest to lowest. (ED.gov)

Lacey Mason, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The nation's capital is a tourist hotspot with its historical monuments and famed museums. But D.C. also has something few would flock for: The lowest graduation rate in the country.

The U.S. Department of Education reports new 2010-2011 school year data show the District's four-year high school graduation rate is 59 percent, lower than any state.

Maryland and Virginia, on the other hand, ranked far better than the District.

Virginia's graduation rate is 82 percent and Maryland comes in just ahead at 83 percent.

In another contrast, 73 percent of students in the District are low-income, compared with 40 percent in Maryland and 37 percent in Virginia, the survey shows.

According to the data, of D.C.'s 191 schools, 147 are in need of improvement and 99 are in restructuring.

This is the first year the department has used a new, uniform calculation method for state educational data.

The department says new collection methods mean individual state results can be compared with one another more reliably, but that data from previous years shouldn't be compared with the new results.

So while half of states reported lower graduation rates and half reported unchanged or slightly better rates, the information isn't an indicator of change but gives a "more accurate snapshot" of graduation rates, the department says.

"By using this new measure, states will be more honest in holding schools accountable and ensuring that students succeed," says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Ultimately, these data will help states target support to ensure more students graduate on time, college and career ready."

Information from a few states and Puerto Rico wasn't entirely available yet. Idaho, Kentucky and Puerto Rico were marked "not applicable" and Oklahoma was not available.

The top states were:

  • Iowa: 88 percent
  • Vermont, Wisconsin: 87 percent
  • Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas: 86 percent

The lowest-ranked were:

  • New Mexico: 63 percent
  • Nevada: 62 percent
  • District of Columbia: 59 percent

For more information and to see the full list of state graduation rates, as well as interactive maps, go to ED Data Express.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)