Wednesday June 1 2016 Wildwood Catholic Graduation at St. Ann's Catholic Church in North Wildwood. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

New Jersey had the third-highest high school graduation rate in the country in 2014, according to the Diplomas Count report released Thursday by Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week.

New Jersey’s rate of 89 percent was just behind Iowa at 91 percent and Nebraska at 90 percent. The national graduation rate, as measured by the U.S. Education Department’s Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, or ACGR, was 82 percent. The lowest-performing states were Nebraska at 70 percent and New Mexico at 69 percent, with the District of Columbia having the lowest graduation rate at 61 percent.

The graduation rate rose by a full percentage point from the prior year and by 3 percentage points since 2011, when the U.S. Department of Education first started requiring states to calculate and report graduation rates using the ACGR method, which tracks each class. Graduation rates in roughly half the states reached or exceeded the 85 percent mark for the class of 2014.

The report notes that rates are rising in most states, and high schools have taken different measures to improve. But critical gaps remain among and within states. Consistent with long-term trends, students from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups are much less likely to finish high school, though the rates are improving.

Nationally, four-year graduation rates for white students, at 87 percent, outpaced those for blacks students at 73 percent and Latino students at 76 percent. Asian students had the highest graduation rate at 89 percent.

New Jersey data show the same pattern, though minority groups in the state graduate at a much higher rate than those outside New Jersey. In 2014, in New Jersey, Asian students had the highest graduation rate at 96 percent, followed by white students at 94 percent, Latino students at 81 percent and black students at 79 percent.

New Jersey students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds had an 80 percent graduation rate compared with 75 percent nationally. Students with disabilities in New Jersey had a graduation rate of 77 percent compared with 63 percent nationally. Students with limited English proficiency had a graduation rate of 71 percent in New Jersey and 63 percent nationally.

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