GradNation leaders speak out on latest national grad rate

The Road to 90: A Proud and Sobering Moment

Dec 15, 2015
Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the national high school graduation rate stands at a record high, up from 81.4 percent in 2013 to 82.3 percent for 2014. 
 
 
Four organizations leading the GradNation campaign to raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 – the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education – have issued the following press statement:
 
“The national high school graduation rate is at its highest rate ever, thanks in large part to the progress that has been made by young people and their families, educators, state and community leaders and organizations, and the business community over the past 10 years. 
 
“But there are two issues that give us pause today. First, for the first time in four years, the country is not on track to reach the national goal of a 90 percent on-time high school graduation rate by 2020, missing by just a few tenths of a percent. Second, while there have been some significant gains for key subgroups, the nation continues to suffer from gaps in graduation rates affecting students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities and English-language learners.
 
“These are reminders that our work is not finished, that the last leg of this campaign will be very challenging, and that we must redouble efforts to reach our goal.
 
“We must continue to push toward a 90 percent graduation rate for all students. We must invest in evidence-based reforms and more effective use of resources for all students. We must remain diligent and steadfast in our efforts to implement what we know is working – including heeding early warning signs and surrounding students with more caring adults both in and outside the classroom – and to eliminate what we know is not working, including suspension and expulsion policies that have a disparate impact on young people of color and students with disabilities.
 
“The signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) bill last week by President Obama is good news. ESSA will preserve the common calculation of graduation rates; disaggregation of data by race, ethnicity, income and disability to help us identify the gaps; and graduation rate accountability, all of which have been so critical to our progress to date. ESSA also includes a specific focus on high schools where one-third or more of students do not graduate. We must rally around these schools and support their success.
 
“We have seen that with hard work, big change is possible. But with only a few years to go in the campaign, every organization, community, business, school and individual must get involved so more young people will have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Let’s use this moment as a reminder of the inequities that remain before us and keep our eyes on the prize of ensuring every student graduates from high school.”  
 
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ABOUT GRADNATION: GradNation is a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, community leaders, businesses and organizations working together to  increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the workforce. The campaign is fueled by a belief that all children can thrive if they are provided with Five Promises: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to serve.
 
NEW BUILDING A GRAD NATION DATA BRIEF & REPORT: The Building a Grad Nation Data Brief, a summary of all the latest graduation rate data from the U.S. Department of Education, will be released in January 2016.  An analysis of the data will be included in the annual Building a Grad Nation report, which will be released next spring with a focus on the gaps that remain and the strategies required to reach 90 percent in 2020.  
 
MEDIA CONTACT: If you have questions or would like to speak with a representative from the GradNation campaign, please see below.  Spokespeople include:  
 
  • Bob Balfanz, principal investigator and researcher, Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education 
 
  • John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises 
 
  • John Gomperts, president & CEO, America’s Promise Alliance 
 
  • Bob Wise, president, Alliance for Excellent Education