Wisconsin’s 4-Year Graduation Rates Rise to 88 percent, Achievement Gap Shrinks by Nearly Two Percent

Wisconsin’s achievement gap between students from different racial backgrounds is still significant, but shrunk in 2013.

by Christian D’Andrea
MacIver Institute Education Policy Analyst

More than seven out of every eight high school students in Wisconsin graduated in four years or less in 2013, according to the latest data released by the Department of Public Instruction. 88 percent of Wisconsin students earned their diplomas on time last year, an increase of .5 percent from 2012’s mark. This continued a path of steady growth that the state has followed over the past four school years.


This single-year improvement also made a dent in the state’s achievement gap between students from different races. While there was still a significant difference between the graduation rates of Wisconsin’s white and black students, a 2.1 percent increase in four-year grad rates for African-American pupils helped to reduce the state’s achievement gap.


While a 27.6 point gap is nothing to be proud of, the state is moving in the right direction when it comes to addressing one of the biggest problems in Wisconsin’s K-12 education.

This upturn also saw a decrease in the graduation rate gap between economically disadvantaged students and their peers. Economically disadvantaged students – students that come from families who earn an annual income that is less than or equal to 185 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Pupils that fell into this category improved their graduation rates by nearly five percent over the past four years.


Wisconsin has historically always had solid graduation rates. These 2012-2013 numbers confirm the Badger State’s position near the top of the national leaderboard when it comes to earning diplomas. However, the most encouraging statistic released by the Department of Public Instruction is the improvement amongst students that the state has traditionally struggled to educate effectively. If Wisconsin’s K-12 schools can continue this growth, the state can shake the ignominious label of being a national leader when it comes to the achievement gap in the future.