High school graduation rates across the country hit the reported record high of 83.2 percent in 2014-15 and have been steadily rising since 2011. But beneath the veneer of this happy news trumpeted by the White House, academic achievement has been left far behind.

On the 2014-15 National Assessment for Educational Progress, often referred to as the nation’s “report card,” 38 percent of 12th-graders scored below “basic” in math and 28 percent scored below that measure in reading. Only a quarter of the tested seniors scored at or above proficiency in math, 37 percent in reading.

On another measure, fewer than half of the seniors who took the SAT last year were ready to do college-level work, based on their scores, according to The Daily Signal.

Yes, high school graduation is linked to greater economic success. But the graduates aren’t helped when one-third of them en route to their bachelor’s degrees must take remedial college courses just to keep up. That means spending more time and money “trying to acquire the skills that they should have mastered in high school,” writes Anne Ryland for The Daily Signal.

The answer isn’t necessarily to hold kids back in high school but to give them better education choices. That’s demonstrated by the District of Columbia, with its charter schools and Opportunity Scholarship Program. These opportunities have increased graduation rates and academic performance.

Combined, that’s an achievement worth celebrating.


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