Students listen to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan during an event at School Without Walls Aug. 27, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday that U.S. high school graduation rates reached record highs in the 2013-14 school year, with 82 percent of teens graduating. African-American and Latino students are also continuing to close the graduation gap with their white counterparts.

According to the Education Department, there was a 17-point percentage gap in graduation rates between African-American and white students during the 2011-12 school year. That percentage decreased to 14.8 in 2013-14.

Advertisement

"America’s students have achieved another record milestone by improving graduation rates for a fourth year," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday in a statement. "The hard work of teachers, administrators, students and their families has made these gains possible, and as a result many more students will have a better chance of going to college, getting a good job, owning their own home and supporting a family. We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains, including for students of color."

The data show that for the past several years, graduation rates have increased across the board for all students, including low-income students, students with disabilities and English-language learners.

"A high school diploma is absolutely critical, absolutely attainable and key to future success in college, in the workforce and in life," Duncan continued. "It is encouraging to see our graduation rate on the rise, and I applaud the hard work we know it takes to see this increase. But too many students never get their diploma, never walk across the graduation stage, and while our dropout numbers are also decreasing, we remain committed to urgently closing the gaps that still exist in too many schools and in too many communities."