WASHINGTON, D.C. The nation continues to make progress to end the dropout crisis, according to a report released today by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education. The report found that 24 states increased their high school graduation rates by modest to large gains, while the number of high schools graduating 60 percent or fewer students on time—often referred to as “dropout factories”— decreased by 457 between 2002 and 2010, with the rate of decline accelerating since 2008.
The number of “dropout factories” totaled 1,550 in 2010, down from 1,634 in 2009 and a high of 2,007 in 2002. The number declined by 84 between 2009 and 2010. As a result, 790,000 fewer students attended dropout factories in 2010 than 2002. These numbers and additional analysis are detailed in the 2012 Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, an annual report authored by John Bridgeland and Mary Bruce of Civic Enterprises and Robert Balfanz and Joanna Fox at the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. The report is sponsored by AT&T with additional support from the Pearson Foundation.
“The good news is that some states have made improvements in their graduation rates, showing it can be done. But the data also indicate that if we are to meet our national goals by 2020, we will have to accelerate our rate of progress, particularly in the states that have shown little progress,” said Robert Balfanz, director of Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University, and co-author of the Building a Grad Nation report.
Other findings include:
The report used the best and most recent data available: the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) and Promoting Power for 2010. Although all states were expected to use the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate starting in the 2010-11 school year, not all states are reporting these data at this time.
The report also includes updates on progress on the 10 Civic Marshall Plan benchmarks, such as grade-level reading, chronic absenteeism, early warning systems, and state compulsory school age requirements. As highlighted by President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union Address, state laws dictate the minimum and maximum age that all youth must attend school. While the majority of states have a compulsory school age of 17 or 18, a total of 18 states still permit students to drop out before age 18 or the age students drop out.
”In large part the battle will be won or lost in the 13 states that have the largest number of students to get back on track to graduate and need to accelerate their progress two to three-fold in order to reach 90% high school graduation rates by 2020,” said John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises and co-author of the Building a Grad Nation report.
The report also features states and school districts that are making significant gains, serving as a challenge that others can too. It also shares promising practices from nonprofits, businesses, media, educational and governmental institutions across the country, and five case studies in: Dothan, AL, the State of Georgia; Henry Grady High School in Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX; and Washington County Public Schools in Maryland.
“In order to accelerate the progress highlighted in this report, it is critical that we identify the initiatives that are most effective in reducing the dropout rate,” said Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President-Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer for AT&T. “Working together to scale these evidenced-based strategies will be vital to helping our students succeed and meeting our national objectives.”
Two of the report’s authors will discuss the complete findings of the report at the March 19 opening session of the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit. The summit is the annual premier event of the Grad Nation campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end the dropout crisis. The goal of Grad Nation is to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time.
A full copy of the 2012 report and more details on state level data are available by request or online March 19 at: http://americaspromise.org, http://civicenterprises.net or http://every1graduates.org.