So how did Kansas do in the Diplomas Count 2010 report? Better than average, perhaps, but that’s only because demography is in its favor. Its graduation rate for the class of 2007 was 75.1, besting the national average of 68.8. That puts Kansas as the 17th-best state among the 50 states, though significantly behind Iowa (80.2 percent, rank: 5).
But a few cautions are in order. First, that still means 3 out of 4 students drop out. Perhaps some of them will go on to have lives filled with good work prospects and knowledge and skills required to navigate life. But I suspect most will not. And when you consider all the money and effort expended by the public school system, and to some extent, social services, it’s clear that there’s some failure even on the terms of the public schools.
What happens if we break out the rates by racial groups? Among white students, Kansas dips slightly, to 20 out of 49 states (there was insufficient data for Arkansas). Among blacks, the rate was only 56.6 percent, putting the state at 18 among the 43 states that reported sufficient information to calculate a graduation rate.
I suspect, echoing something I noted in a post on the NAEP, that Kansas’s above-average performance on graduation rates is at least in part a function of its above-white enrollment, given that, for whatever reason, white students as a group score higher academically.