LITTLE ROCK Arkansas’ high school dropout rate fell to 3.6 percent for the 2009-’10 school year, an improvement from a year earlier but higher than the national average, according to a U.S. Education Department study released Tuesday.
The average Arkansas freshman graduation rate, which estimates the percentage of high school students who get their diplomas in four years, was 75 percent for the year, compared with 78 percent nationally, according to the study.
But the study noted that many students who don’t graduate in four years take another year or more and complete their coursework.
The study defines a dropout as a student who was enrolled at any time during the previous school year who is not enrolled at the beginning of the current school year and has not successfully completed school.
Nationally, Arkansas falls in the middle of the extremes. Arizona had the highest dropout rate at 7.8 percent, while New Hampshire had the lowest at 1.2 percent.
The federal study also shows that Arkansas, and the nation, still have a racial disparity in graduation rates. The Arkansas dropout rate for black students was 5.0 percent, while for white students it was 3.1 percent. Nationally, the rate for African-American students was 5.5 percent and 2.3 percent for white students.
The study was released as Arkansas legislators take on several education-related issues.
The House and Senate also are addressing recent court rulings on the ability of students to transfer from one school district to another and on funding in districts that collect more than the state minimum required to fund local districts.