How Kentucky is Closing the High School Graduation Gap for Low-Income Students



EDUCATION REPORT – According to a report by the John Hopkins School of Education and Civic Enterprises, the state of Kentucky has one of the nation’s highest high school graduation rates despite having a poverty rate above the national average.

How Kentucky is Closing the High School Graduation Gap for Low-Income Students” is a report that details the work legislators and educators have done over the last 25 years to improve Kentucky’s education system.

Having one of the highest graduation rates in the country but also one of the smallest gaps between the number of low-income and non-low-income graduates makes Kentucky just one of six states in the country that can boast a graduation rate for low-income students above the national average of 82.3 percent.

The research demonstrates how one state can create sustained change to benefit all students through broad collaboration, legislative reform, strong accountability, smart use of data and holistic support for schools and students.


Findings in the report include:

* Since 1980, Kentucky’s poverty rate has averaged 3- to 5-percentage points higher than the national average.

* In 2014, Kentucky graduated 87.5 percent of its students statewide, with nearly 70 percent of the state’s school districts reporting graduation rates of 90 percent or above; 27 percent of its districts graduating at least 80 percent of their students; and only two percent of the state’s 173 districts had graduation rates below 80 percent.

* Low-income students graduate at unusually high rates in Kentucky (84 percent), with more than 46 percent of districts graduating at least 90 percent and only 12.5 percent of districts graduating less than 80 percent. This compares to a national graduation rate of 74.6 percent for low-income students.

* A diverse coalition of business, the judicial system, state government and individual citizens has strengthened the momentum started by the 1990 legislation to bring equity to school systems across the state.

The report looks in-depth at school districts in three regions: central Kentucky, covering Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort; Appalachia and eastern Kentucky, where unemployment is high and educational attainment low; and northern Kentucky, with a population that varies widely in income, demographics and graduation rates.

Read the full report at

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