In a mid-December release of statewide graduation rates from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), New Jersey tied with Wisconsin for third-highest rate in the country for the 2013-2014 school year – 88.6 percent.

The national average was 82 percent; only Iowa (at 90.5 percent) and Nebraska (at 89.7 percent) ranked higher than New Jersey.

The New Jersey rate has steadily increased from 83 percent in the 2010-2011 school year. In the 2011-2012 year the rate was 86 percent; in the 2012-2013 year, the rate was 88 percent. Nationally the rate increased from 79 percent in 2010-2011.

The U.S. rate was the highest since the 2010-2011 school year, when states adopted a uniform method of calculating graduation rates, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The graduation rate is calculated using a formula in which the number of graduates in a given year is divided by the number of students who enrolled four years earlier.

Achievement Gap Shrinks, but Persists

According to the USDOE, nationally, the achievement gap persists, but is smaller. The gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas continued to grow. Graduation rates for minorities increased by four percentage points between 2011 and 2013.

In New Jersey, the achievement gap has also decreased. Comparing the 2013-2014 school year, with the previous year, 93.5 percent of white students graduated (compared with 93.1 percent in 2012-2013), while 80.6 percent of Hispanic students graduated (compared with 78.6 the previous year); 78.9 percent of black students (compared with 76.4 percent the previous year); 79.6 percent of economically disadvantaged students (versus 77.1 percent the previous year); and 71.1 percent of limited English proficient students (compared with 70.5 percent the previous year.) The graduation rate for students with disabilities also increased in the 2013-2014 school year, to 79.6 percent, from 75.9 percent the previous year.