The percentage of U.S. students living in poverty jumped by 40 percent in the last decade, and total funding for K-12 education dropped by $1 billion from 2008-09 to 2009-10. Yet, despite these challenges, high school graduation rates are slowly climbing—and more students are completing math and science courses, according to the latest figures from the National Center on Education Statistics.

Released May 23, “The Condition of Education 2013”—the latest in an annual series of reports from NCES, a branch of the U.S....

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