"According to the most recent report, Wisconsin’s high school graduation rates are also up again -- to third best in the country."  

Scott Walker on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 in a speech

Mostly True

Scott Walker says Wisconsin's high school graduation rate increased, rising to third in U.S.

Teacher Dakota Berg talks with student Antiana Payne during a health fair at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts on Jan. 16, 2016. (Gary Porter photo)

State of the State addresses tend to be bursting with boasts and brags.

But given the preparation that goes into such speeches, claims made in them are probably more likely to be on target than off-the-cuff remarks.

That’s essentially what we have with one in a string of education boasts made by Gov. Scott Walker during his sixth State of the State, given Jan. 19, 2016.

"In our state, fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores went up again in 2015," the governor said. "And according to the most recent report, Wisconsin’s high school graduation rates are also up again -- to the third-best in the country."

Given the nature of his speech, Walker clearly was taking some credit for the graduation rate apparently rising and the ranking being so high.

Let’s take a look.

Old claim, new claim

Walker made a similar statement in April 2014. He said the state’s high school graduation rate and third-grade reading scores had improved on his watch.

Our rating was Mostly True. Both numbers were up since 2010, the year before Walker took office. But some credit could have been to due prior elected officials, and the trend lines hadn’t changed much going back to prior to 2010.

The graduation rate covers students in public high schools who earn a regular diploma within four years of starting high school.

To back Walker’s new claim, his office cited an October 2015 news release from the state Department of Public Instruction about the latest graduation data.

The release said federal data released that month showed Wisconsin’s graduation rate for the 2013-’14 school year was 88.6 percent.

That rate was up 0.6 percentage points from the previous year, ranking Wisconsin third in the country, according to the release.

Here’s how the federal data listed the top states:

Public high school graduation rate, 2013-’14 school year



1. Iowa


2. Nebraska


3. (tie) Wisconsin and New Jersey



Now the federal data for the previous school year:

Public high school graduation rate, 2012-’13 school year



1. Iowa


2. Nebraska


3. (tie) Wisconsin and Texas



So, Wisconsin’s graduation rate did improve, but its rank did not.

Our rating

Walker said: "According to the most recent report, Wisconsin’s high school graduation rates are also up again -- to third best in the country."

The latest-available graduation rate for public high school students in Wisconsin was 88.6 percent in the 2013-’14 school year. That’s up sixth-tenths of a percentage point from the previous year. But Wisconsin’s rank -- third -- did not change.

We rate Walker’s statement Mostly True.

More on education

Wisconsin Democratic Party: Wisconsin dropped "from second in the country to 41st" among states where more than half the students took the ACT exam. Pants on Fire.

Activist Scot Ross: Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin "moved from 16th to third in percentage of people with student loan debt." Mostly False.

Lawmaker Jennifer Shilling: A "voucher school that closed after 9 days this year collected $5.4 million in taxpayer subsidies since first opening." Mostly True.



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