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News Release - Colorado graduation rates reach highest marks since 2010, state dropout rates also improve

Jan. 19, 2017

Colorado graduation rates reach highest marks since 2010, state dropout rates also improve

DENVER --Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education show a marked increase in the statewide graduation rate with 78.9 percent of the students in the Class of 2016 graduating within four years of entering ninth grade, the highest four-year rate since 2010 when there was a change in how the rate was reported.

The 2015-16 four-year graduation rate is 1.6 percentage points higher than in 2014-15, when the four-year rate was 77.3 percent. In total, the Class of 2016 had 2,040 more graduates than the Class of 2015. The rate has increased 6.5 percentage points since 2010. Extended year rates for students taking five, six and seven years to graduate also show improvement.

“The news is encouraging for the state and shows the continued dedicated commitment of students, parents, teachers and school staff,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “It is motivating that we are moving in the right direction as we all strive to have students graduate prepared for life after high school, whether that is in college or careers.”

Dropout rate improves

The state’s 2015-16 dropout rate shows an improvement of 0.2 percentage points over the 2014-15 rate, according to today’s data release. The 2015-16 dropout rate is 2.3 percent; the 2014-15 rate was 2.5 percent. Colorado’s public schools saw 584 fewer students drop out in 2015-16 than in the 2014-15 school year. For more information, visit the dropout statistics website.   

Graduation Rates by Ethnicity and Race

The state’s graduation gap between minority students and white students continues to narrow for the Class of 2016. The current graduation gap is 12.5 percent, which narrowed by 0.4 percentage points from the previous year. This represents the sixth consecutive year the racial graduation gap narrowed since 2010. In addition, more minority students are graduating within four years. The four-year graduation rate for minority students is 71.9 percent, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from last year. The table below provides a breakdown of the four-year graduation rate by ethnicity for the Class of 2016.

2015-16 Statewide Four-Year Graduation Rates by Ethnicity and Race

American Indian

62.0%, 313 graduates


86.0%, 1,754 graduates


71.8%, 2,301 graduates 


69.9%, 13,787 graduates

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

74.4%, 125 graduates  

Two or more races

79.1%, 1,627 graduates 


84.4%, 29,935 graduates

Graduation Rates by Gender

Additionally the statewide, four-year graduation rate for females was 82.7 percent (25,562 graduates) and the male graduation rate was 75.3 percent (24,280 graduates).  

Updates to the Reporting Procedure

In the 2015-16 school year, CDE automated the process districts use to remove duplicate records, which improved the accuracy of graduation and completion rates.  For more information, visit the CDE's graduation rate website.

Completion Rate

The completion rate is determined by combining all graduates with those who receive a certificate, a designation of high school completion, or a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). In April 2016, CDE began accepting two additional HSED exams in addition to the traditional GED exam: HiSet and TASC. The Class of 2016 had a completion rate of 80.3 percent, reflecting the accomplishment of 868 students who finished their high school education  in addition to those that received a traditional diploma.

Giving Students More Time

Colorado has been persistent in keeping students in high school who fall short of graduation requirements or are participating in their high school’s post-secondary program to earn college credit. Students can remain enrolled beyond their fourth year of high school to graduate in five, six years or seven years after entering high school. A total of 53.4 percent (6,656) of the students in the Class of 2016 who did not complete high school in the spring are still enrolled and have the opportunity to graduate or complete in 5, 6 or 7 years from entering high school.

Tools to Understand the Numbers

CDE has created a number of interactive tools and maps to better illustrate how the graduation and dropout rates look across the state.
You can find the graduation statistics on this webpage.
The dropout statistics are available on this webpage.

Statewide Four-Year Graduation Rates

Class of 2016

           78.9%, 49,824 graduates

Class of 2015

           77.3%, 47,784 graduates

Class of 2014

           77.3%, 47,486 graduates

Statewide Five-Year Graduation Rates

Class of 2015

           83.3%, 52,242 graduates

Class of 2014

           81.7%, 51,822 graduates

Class of 2013

           81.2%, 51,565 graduates

Statewide Six-Year Graduation Rates

Class of 2014

           84.3%, 53,027 graduates

Class of 2013

           82.5%, 52,565 graduates

Class of 2012

           81.2%, 52,377 graduates