Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grad Nation 2012 Update Report

On Monday, to coincide with the start of the Grad Nation Summit, America's Promise Alliance released the report "Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic." The report, which was prepared by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and the Alliance for Excellent Education in addition to America's Promise Alliance, is the 2012 update on the nation's high school graduation trends and the progress that has been made on Grad Nation's "Civic Marshall Plan." This plan has two primary objectives: achieving a 90% graduation rate for the high school class of 2020 as well as the highest college attainment rate globally (60% of higher).

The report notes that while high school graduation rates have been improving across the nation, rising from 72% in 2001 to 75.5% in 2009, not all states have been sharing in the gains, as 10 states were found to have lower graduation rates than they did earlier in the 2000s.

Other statistics mentioned in the report include:
  • a 23% (or 457 school) decline in the number of dropout factory high schools between 2002 and 2010;
  • a 5% increase between in the proportion of 4th grade students scoring at or above proficient in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress between 2000 and 2011 (29% vs. 34%); and
  • 1/3 of states currently having longitudinal data systems with all of the information (e.g. attendance, behavior, and reading and math performance) needed for Early Warning Indicator and Intervention Systems. 

In addition to documenting trends, the report also provides a series of federal and state policy recommendations aimed at increasing high school completion rates and preparedness for success after graduation. These proposals include:
  • the promotion of state standards focused on college and career readiness;
  • using national service programs to improve academic outcomes for both volunteers and the individuals they serve; 
  • the use of longitudinal data systems to identify the characteristics of those most likely to dropout and craft special strategies to support them; and
  • programs to improve the success of disconnected youth. (For more information and resources related to disconnected youth, please view our blog post about recent efforts by the White House Council for Community Solutions here.)

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