Mapping H.S. Graduation Rates, District by District, Coast to Coast

Jul 7, 2015

Here at State of Democracy, we love a good graphic. Maps, charts, tables -- any illustration that displays lots of data in a clear, informative manner earns a gold star from us. Here's one recent example that caught our eye: a map showing the graduation rate for nearly every school district in the United States in 2013.

The map was compiled by the Hechinger Report, a journalism organization that focuses on education policy.

Maps comparing graduation rates across the country aren't exactly rare, but usually the data is displayed at the state level. The problem with that approach, as the folks at Hechinger make clear, is that low performing districts tend to get rounded into the overall statewide average. 

Take a tour through the map, and some obvious trends jump out. For much of the Southeast, graduation rates fall well below the national average. The same goes for large swaths of the Mountain West and Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and others). On the other hand, districts in Texas, the Upper Midwest, and -- to a certain extent -- the Northeast tend to perform well. (As a benchmark, the national graduation rate in 2013 was 81 percent.)

The story for New Hampshire is a bit complicated. The majority of districts hover around the national average, with several well above that mark, and a handful of districts falling below the national graduation rate. But data for several New Hampshire districts is missing, even though the state Department of Education does report graduation rates for every district. In most cases, that's because Hechinger didn't include data for districts that lack their own high school but send their students to a neighboring district.

You can find full district by district data for New Hampshire here.