More Americans are graduating from high school than ever before

Credit where credit’s due.
Credit where credit’s due.
Image: Reuters/Mike Segar
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When it comes to education, the US usually ranks well enough in the world, but lacks bragging points over many of its European peers.

Things are looking up, at least by the numbers. President Barack Obama’s White House announced today that the country’s high-school graduation rate for the last academic year was 83.2%—the best it’s ever been. While that rate swings a bit for different demographics—for white students, the graduation rate is 87.6%, compared to 74.6% for black students—all racial and socioeconomic groups have seen steady upticks for the past few years.

How does that rate stack up to that of other countries in the world? Quite well, actually.

Though recent data from the OECD shows that nearly two dozen other nations still boast secondary-school graduation rates higher than that of the US, many of those countries—such as South Korea (whose graduation rate is 92%), Denmark (95%), Finland (96%), and Switzerland (95%)—are also smaller and more contained. Obama, whose administration over the years has tried to make various improvements to national education across the board, will likely see this year’s all-time-high graduation rate be a huge part of his legacy.

That aside, though, the fact remains that the US is still behind many of its peers in most aspects of high school education; its performance in global academic competitions has been lukewarm, and the country also faces a unique struggle with graduating students from low-income backgrounds. So there’s still a while to go before America’s education department can claim anything over Germany, for instance.