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Hawaii graduation rates among most equitable

April 28, 2014 - 8:58am

HONOLULU — High school graduation rates in Hawaii are among the nation’s most equitable across race and class, a report on graduation rates nationwide found.

Department of Education data compiled in the report, “Building a Grad Nation,” show that in 2012, U.S. graduation rates topped 80 percent for the first time. Hawaii’s rate was slightly higher, at 82 percent.

More distinctively, Hawaii’s graduation rates were steady across race, class or disability.

• The state graduated 79 percent of its white students and 76 percent of its black students. That 3 percentage-point difference was the smallest in the country. Hawaii’s gap between white (79 percent) and Hispanic students’ (76 percent) graduation rates, also three points, was the country’s third-smallest in that category.

• Hawaii’s students with disabilities also graduated in relatively high numbers (74 percent). Their rate trailed the state’s overall graduation rate by just 8 percentage points, third-lowest in the country.

• Hawaii graduated 80 percent of its low-income students, the fourth-highest rate in the country. Only one state, Indiana, had a smaller difference between the rate of its low-income students and the overall rate. The gap in Hawaii was 2 percentage points; nationwide, the average was 15 percentage points.

Hawaii has a unique system of funding schools. It’s the only state that runs and pays for its public schools at the state level, rather than at the local level. That ensures a given school’s funding doesn’t depend on a community’s tax revenue.

• Faring less well in Hawaii were students with limited English proficiency. Only 56 percent of them graduated, and the 26 percentage point gap between them and Hawaii’s overall graduation rate was the 13th-highest in the country.

A spokesman for the state Department of Education last week declined to comment on the report, saying officials there first would have to review its data.

The report is being presented Monday at the Building a Grad Nation summit in Washington.

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