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- Gov. Greg Abbott is right the Texas graduation rate is 90%. That statistic comes from Texas Education Agency 2020 data.
Gov. Greg Abbott's re-election campaign lauded education in Texas, with a May 15 video touting Blue Ribbon public schools, U.S. News ranking four Texas high schools among the top 50 STEM high schools, and the Texas public high school graduation rate.
"Governor @GregAbbott_TX has lead education to a brighter future," Abbott's campaign Twitter account @TexansforAbbott's tweeted, "That's why Texas' public high school graduation rate is at 90% overall."
Does Texas have a 90% high school graduation rate? State data supports the Abbott campaign's statistic.
PolitiFact Texas reached out to Abbott's campaign but did not hear back. However, the video credited the Texas Education Agency for the graduation rate statistic.
Of the students who started ninth grade in 2016-17, scheduled to graduate in 2020, 90.3% graduated within four years, according to a 2019-20 report by the agency. This percentage is called the four-year longitudinal graduation rate, because it measures how much of a starting ninth grade class completes high school within four years.
The remaining 10% might have continued school, received a high school equivalency certificate, or dropped out. Abbott's statistic checks out.
Some demographic groups have better graduation rates than others. Economically disadvantaged students graduated 6 percentage points lower (87.5%) than those who were not (93.5%). Compared with state averages, there were lower graduation rates and higher dropout rates for students in special education programs and students identified as learning English as a second language.
Abbott and his predecessor Rick Perry have long rallied around their work on education and touted Texas' high school graduation rate.
In 2018, Abbott said Texas ranked among the nation's top five states for its high school graduation rate. PolitiFact Texas found that to be True. In 2015 and 2013, PolitiFact rated statements by Perry to be Mostly True that Texas' high school graduation rates were third-highest in the nation. In 2011, Texas tied with five states for that title of No. 3.
Texas was ahead of the national average graduation rate at 86% in 2018-19, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It was among eight states with a 90% or higher graduation rate.
In the mid-2000s, Texas took an aggressive approach to turning around high schools that were not graduating at least 60% of its senior class, said Jacob Kirksey, assistant professor of educational psychology, leadership and counseling at Texas Tech University. Many states including Texas saw gains around this time because of the No Child Left Behind Act. High schools later also adopted career- and college-readiness models. The state education system under Abbott continued this effort that began during Perry's leadership.
"Compared to other states, I think Texas is not afraid to make changes and to try things out, which I think is a really important and powerful perspective to have in policy," Kirksey said. "At the end of the day, Texas is improving on all metrics with respect to graduation rates and attrition rates."
Gov. Greg Abbott's campaign tweeted, "Texas' public high school graduation rate is at 90% overall," accompanying a video touting K-12 and higher education wins.
That matches data from the Texas Education Agency, so we rate this as True.
Tweet by Texans for Abbott (@AbbottCampaign), May 15, 2022
Division of Research and Analysis at the Office of Governance and Accountability Texas Education Agency, "Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools 2019-20," August 2021
Phone interview, Dr. Jacob Kirksey, assistant professor of educational psychology, leadership and counseling at Texas Tech University, May 23, 2022
Follow-up email from Jacob Kirksey, at Texas Tech University, June 14, 2022
National Center for Education Statistics, "Fast Facts: High School graduation rates"
Texas Education Agency, "House Bill 5"
W. Gardner Selby, PolitiFact, "Rick Perry says Texas has third-highest high school graduation rates, a 'significant turnaround,'" Feb. 11, 2013
W. Gardner Selby, PolitiFact, "Rick Perry says Texas has second-best high school graduation rate, No. 1 for minorities," June 19, 2015
W. Gardner Selby, PolitiFact, "Greg Abbott says Texas ranks among 5 top states for its high-school graduation rate," March 2, 2018
Texas Education Agency, "Changes to College and Career Readiness Models"
Texas Education Agency, "Texas College and Career Readiness School Models"
Douglas N. Harris, Lihan Liu, Nathan Barrett, Ruoxi Li, Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, "Is the Rise in High School Graduation Rates Real?" March 2020
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