PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon improved its graduation rate with the class of 2015, but it’s still one of the lowest in the nation.

The U.S. Department of Education reported Monday that Oregon’s rate was about 74 percent, a better mark than only Nevada and New Mexico. Neighboring Washington state was 10th lowest, at 78 percent.

Nationwide, the high school graduation rate rose to a record-high 83 percent. President Obama announced the news at a Washington D.C. high school.

“We have made a lot of progress,” he told students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. “I just want to be honest with you. We still got more work to do…There are still too many states that are cutting back on public education.”

Iowa and New Jersey had the nation’s best graduation rates, topping 90 percent.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports (http://bit.ly/2edm4nQ) it’s the first time in years that Oregon has not ranked dead-last in graduating white students. Nevada claimed that dubious distinction.

Oregon’s graduation rate among white students still ranked second-worst, at 76 percent.

Experts say a complicated blend of factors helps explain Oregon’s lack of success at getting students to graduate in four years. One is the state’s high rate of chronic absenteeism.

An item on the November ballot, Measure 98, requires the Oregon Legislature to fund dropout-prevention strategies, such as fighting absenteeism and expanding career-technical course offerings.