New Jersey’s high school graduation rate is 84.6 percent—meaning that 84.6 percent of the 112,326 students that started in the public schools as high school freshman were awarded their diplomas four years later, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education. This rate is for the 2007-2008 school year—the most recent year nationwide statistics are available. NJ's ranking is the fourth-highest in the nation, behind Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont. Critics of NJ's public school system have long contended that the state's Alternative High School Assessment is virtually impossible to flunk and is a key reason for the state's relatively high ranking. This year the NJ Department of Education made AHSA far more stringent, imperiling graduation for thousands of students, see NJ Schools and Students Do the AHSA Scramble. The state with the lowest graduation rate in the country is Nevada, with only 51.3 percent of high school students graduating, followed by the District of Columbia at 63.5 percent, Louisiana at 63.5 percent and Mississippi at 63.9 percent.