From WILL - News Local/State -

High School Graduation Rates Up, Some Students Still Behind

Graduation caps.

A graduate wears "Sky is the Limit" on his mortar board at the Kalamazoo Central High School graduation. Paul Sancya/ AP Photo

May marks the anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, which outlawed “separate but equal” policies in public schools. But, 60 years later there are still concerns over equal opportunities for all students. 

High school graduation rates in Illinois are higher than the national average of 80 percent. However, in both Illinois and the nation, graduation rates for low-income and minority students are significantly lower. That’s according to a recent report by the non-profit group, America’s Promise Alliance.

University of Illinois Education professor, Lorenzo Baber said students need more support in the classroom.

He said there should be more teachers that better understand the experiences of low-income and minority students.

“Those things that I think are a reflection of students’ struggles and frustrations with being placed into a box, and not being able to express their culture, and when they express their culture it’s viewed as outside the norm, or not valued at the institution,” Baber said.

At the Champaign Unit 4 School District, African American and low-income students are graduating at rates higher than the state average, but are still lagging behind their peers. 

Baber said if these trends aren’t properly addressed by educators, they can follow students into college.