Researchers, citing progress, are projecting there will be a graduation rate before 2020 of 90%. The report was based in statistics from the Department of Education in 2012.
The increase in the graduation rate was influenced by factors such as greater awareness in the problem with dropouts, as well as efforts by the federal and state governments and districts to include the rates of graduation in measures of accountability. One initiative has been to close the dropout factory schools.
Schools are also taking action, such as the hiring of intervention specialist who deals with students one on one as a way to keep teens in school, said researchers.
Growth in graduation rates amongst Hispanic and African American students has also fueled the increase. The majority of the growth has taken place since 2006 following decades of rates remaining level.
The 80% rate is based upon federal statistics that primarily us a calculation with the amount of graduates in a year divided by the amount of students enrolled four years previously. Some adjustments are made, for example to account for students who transfer.
In 2008, the White House, under George Bush, ordered all 50 states and the District of Columbia to start using this accounting method.
Previously states used a broad range of ways to make calculations for the graduation rates in high schools.
Iowa followed by Vermont, Wisconsin, Texas and Nebraska ranked at the top with 88% or 89% rates. Bottom performers included Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico, Georgia and Alaska, which had graduation rates that were 70% or less.
Oklahoma, Kentucky and Idaho were not on the list since these states were given permission by the federal government to implement their system.
The new method of calculation allows researchers the opportunity to follow the students and chart the progress based upon income levels. By doing that, researchers have found some states are performing much better in getting students of low income to graduation.