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Report: More TN High Schoolers Graduate On Time

A new national report ranks Tennessee in the top three among states for its high school graduation rate. (Adobe Stock)
A new national report ranks Tennessee in the top three among states for its high school graduation rate. (Adobe Stock)
June 10, 2020

RIPLEY, Tenn. -- A new national report finds Lauderdale County is among the nation's top counties for on-time high school graduation, despite its child poverty rate of 35%.

The report by the nonprofit group Save The Children analyzed data from more than 2,600 counties across the United States. In Tennessee, said Mark Shriver, Save the Children's senior vice president for U.S. programs and advocacy, childhood hunger and poverty remain high, but percentages have improved slightly, and high school seniors are staying on track.

"Tennessee moved up four spots since the 2018 Save The Children Childhood Report; it now ranks 36th amongst all states," he said. "I think one of the reasons it ranks as high as it does is that Tennessee is third in the nation for on-time graduation."

One reason for Lauderdale County's success may be its "Secondary Education Graduation Academy," a program to support students facing challenging circumstances -- such as caring for a sick parent or sibling, or having a parent incarcerated -- to help ensure they earn the credits needed to graduate.

However, between counties, the childhood equity gaps remain, Shriver said, "which means that children are more than four times as likely to have their childhoods cut short in the bottom-ranked county, which is Shelby, as compared to the top-ranked county, Williamson. So you have this big inequality in Tennessee, even though the state is moving in the right direction."

Shriver said the findings underscore that racial and economic divides limit opportunities for children of color and for those living in rural communities.

"And you see that 30% of the bottom-ranked counties are majority-black, despite the fact that they account for 3% of U.S. counties. And almost 30% of bottom-ranked counties are majority-Native American."

While the figures in the report were collected before the coronavirus pandemic, he added that children in disadvantaged communities are likely being hardest hit by the crisis.

The report is online at
savethechildren.org.

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - TN