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News release - State's graduation rate improves slightly to 79 percent

Jan. 18, 2018

State's graduation rate improves slightly to 79 percent

Colorado achieves highest four-year graduation rate since 2010

DENVER – Colorado’s four-year graduation rate increased to 79 percent for the Class of 2017 and is the highest rate since 2010, according to data released today by the Colorado Department of Education.

The Class of 2017 had 858 more graduates than the Class of 2016 or 0.1 percentage points higher than the 2015-16 four-year graduation rate of 78.9 percent. Since 2010, Colorado’s high school graduation rate has increased a total of 6.6 percentage points. Extended year rates for students taking five, six and seven years to graduate also showed improvement.

“Our steady upward trend is a credit to the teachers, parents and students who are working incredibly hard, but we still have work to do, especially in narrowing the achievement gap,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “We see more students who graduate high school with work-ready credentials and who complete several college credits, which means they are ready for next steps after high school to enter higher education, get a living wage job or enter military service.”

Dropout rates stay the same

The state’s 2016-17 dropout rate remains at 2.3 percent, which was the same rate as 2015-16. This is the second year in a row in which the rate is at an all-time low. In total, the state saw 10,421 students in grades seven through 12 drop out last year. 

Graduation rates by ethnicity and race

The state’s graduation gap between minority students and white students continued to narrow in 2017. The current graduation gap is 10.8 percentage points, which narrowed by 1.7 points from the previous year. This represents the seventh consecutive year the racial graduation gap narrowed since 2010. In addition, more minority students are graduating within four years. The four-year graduation rate for minority students is 73.1 percent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from last year. The table below provides a breakdown of the four-year graduation rate by ethnicity for the Class of 2017.

Race/Ethnicity Graduation Rate Graduates
American Indian 64.1% 352
Asian 89.8% 1,772
Black 71.9% 2,284
Hispanic 71.1% 14,648
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 76.5% 150
Two or More Races 80.2% 1,756
White 83.9% 29,738

Graduation rates by gender

Additionally the statewide, four-year graduation rate for females was 82.8 percent (25,910 graduates) and the male graduation rate was 75.5 percent (24,790 graduates). 

Completion rate

The completion rate is determined by combining all graduates with those who receive a certificate, a designation of high school completion, or a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). The Class of 2017 had a completion rate of 80.8 percent, reflecting an additional 1,098 students who received a HSED.

Giving students more time

Colorado has been resolute in keeping students in high school who fall short of graduation requirements or who are participating in their high school’s post-secondary program to earn college credit. Students can remain enrolled beyond their fourth year of high school to graduate in five, six or seven years after entering high school.

A total of 10.1 percent (6,498 students) of the students in the Class of 2017 remain enrolled and have the opportunity to graduate or complete in five, six or seven years from entering high school.

For the Class of 2015-16, the five-year state graduation rate was 84.1 percent. The five-year completion rate was 86.1 percent. For the Class of 2014-15, the six-year state graduation rate was 84.8 percent. The six-year completion rate was 87.4 percent.

Tools to understand the numbers

CDE has created a number of interactive tools and maps to better illustrate how the graduation and dropout rates look across the state.

You can find graduation statistics on this webpage.

The dropout statistics are available on this webpage.

Statewide four-year graduation rates

  • Class of 2017
    79%, 50,700 graduates
  • Class of 2016
    78.9%, 49,824 graduates
  • Class of 2015
    77.3%, 47,784 graduates
  • Class of 2014
    77.3%, 47,486 graduates

Statewide five-year graduation rates

  • Class of 2016
    84.1%, 53,027 graduates
  • Class of 2015
    83.3%, 50,955 graduates
  • Class of 2014
    81.7%, 50,297 graduates

Statewide six-year graduation rates

  • Class of 2015
    84.9%, 51,883 graduates
  • Class of 2014
    84.3%, 51,316 graduates

Statewide seven-year graduation rates

  • Class of 2014
    85.3%, 51,492