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Indiana 2023 high school graduation rate climbs, but trails decade high

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By ERIC WEDDLE

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More Indiana students earned diplomas from high schools in 2023 than the previous year but the graduation rate lags behind the high of a decade ago, and racial and economic disparities still persist between student groups.

Last year, 88.9 percent of students graduated, according to the Indiana Department of Education. That’s a nearly 2.5 percentage point increase from the previous year. The state’s graduation rate hovered around 86 and 88 percent during the past several years.

The 2014 graduation rate of 90.1 percent was the highest since Indiana began collecting data in 2012, according to the department.

The 2023 class also had fewer students using a waiver to earn a diploma. Students who do not complete or pass some graduation requirements can still qualify for a diploma if they demonstrate knowledge or skill. The non-waiver graduation rate of 84.9 percent is an increase of more than 4 percentage points compared to 2022. 

Lawmakers and education advocates have long raised concern about the use of waiver diplomas and how granting too many can leave some graduates unprepared for a job or higher education.

“As a state, we have worked very hard to reduce our waiver rate and keep our focus on ensuring students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life and in their career,” Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said in a statement.

The rate for students in most subgroups also increased compared to the previous year. But for some, such as students who are Black, learning to speak English, on free and reduced lunch or receiving special education services, still lag behind their classmates.

  • 82.4 percent of Black students, 86.4 percent of Hispanic students, and 79.78 percent of Pacific Islander students graduated. This is compared to nearly 96.26 percent of Asian students and 90.7 percent of White students.
  • The graduation rate for those who receive free and reduced lunch – the national metric for calculating student poverty – was just less than 4 percentage points lower than their peers who paid for meals. 
  • The rate for students receiving special education services jumped by 6.85 percentage points to 83.2 percent.

In 2023, the rate for public school graduates, including traditional districts and charter schools, was 88.8 percent. The diploma rate for charter high schools is 55 percent. 

For private and religious schools, the graduate rate is 91.9 percent.

Overall, more than 73,700 students graduated last year.

Eric Weddle is the education editor at WFYI. Contact Eric at eweddle@wfyi.org.

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