Graduation Rate Topped 75% in 2009 with Tennessee and New York Leading the Progress

3/19/2012
Contact Info: 

Colleen Wilber                                                                              Jason Amos
202.657.0647 or colleenw@americaspromise.org                             202.828.0828 or jamos@all4ed.org


Mary Maushard                                                                             Megan Hoot
410.516.8810 or mmaushard@jhu.edu                                           202.898.9387 or mhoot@civicenterprises.net


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 CenterAmerica’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 national graduation rate increased by 3.5 percentage points between 2001 and 2009 from 72 percent to 75.5 percent in 2009. 

  • 20 states made the most significant gains in graduation rates (+3 to +17 percentage points). Tennessee (+17.8) and New York (+13) saw double-digit gains.
  • 12 states were responsible for the majority of progress during the past decade: New York, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, Missouri, Alabama, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Combined, these states added nearly 109,000 additional graduates in 2009.
  • Nine of these 12 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas) were also among the top 15 states with the biggest declines in students attending “dropout factories.”
  • The following states actually saw declines in their graduation rates during this period: Nevada (-15.6), Connecticut (-4.3), New Mexico (-2.6), Arizona (-2.2), California (-1.7), Utah (-1.1), Nebraska (-1.0), Arkansas (-0.8), New Jersey (-0.5) and Rhode Island (-0.4).
  • Only one state, Wisconsin, has a graduation rate of 90 percent.
  • The following 13 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Washington have to graduate the largest number of students and be most aggressive in accelerating their graduation rate to reach a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

The South and the suburbs saw the largest declines in the number of “dropout factory” schools with 410 and 171, respectively, between 2002 and 2009. 

  • The number of “dropout factory” high schools declined by 98 in cities in 2009-2010 while suburbs saw a decrease of 41.
  • Between 2002 and 2010, the Northeast had the second largest decline of 43 while the West decreased by 35.
  • The Midwest increased their number of “dropout factory” schools by 33 during 2002-10.

Contrary to 2008-09, progress in towns and rural areas stalled in 2009-2010.

  • School districts in towns and rural areas saw an increase in the number of “dropout factory” schools between 2009 and 2010.  Towns increased the number of these schools by 42 and rural areas by 33 schools.
  • This slight increase does not diminish progress between 2002 and 2010 where towns decreased their dropout factory schools by 33 percent, slightly behind their suburban counterparts at 36 percent.

The following states saw the greatest change, decreasing the number of “dropout factory” schools by more than 50 between 2002 and 2010:  Texas (-122); Florida (-62); and Georgia
(-54). These states increased graduation rates during this period as well.

If each state had a graduation rate of 90 percent, 580,000 additional students would have graduated in the class of 2011, increasing the GDP by $6.6 billion and generating $1.8 billion in additional revenue as a result of increased economic activity.

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: www.americaspromise.org , www.civicenterprises.net or www.every1graduates.org .

###

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. It focuses on America’s six million most at-risk secondary school students—those in the lowest achievement quartile—who are most likely to leave school without a diploma or to graduate unprepared for a productive future.

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. We bring together more than 400 national organizations representing nonprofit groups, businesses, communities, educators and policymakers. Through our Grad Nation campaign, we mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. Building on the legacy of our Founding Chairman General Colin Powell, America’s Promise believes the success of young people is grounded in Five Promises: caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. 

Civic Enterprises is a public policy firm that helps corporations, nonprofits, foundations, universities and governments develop and spearhead innovative public policies to strengthen our communities and country. Created to enlist the private, public and nonprofit sectors to help address our Nation’s toughest problems, Civic Enterprises fashions new initiatives and strategies that achieve measurable results in the fields of education, civic engagement, economic mobility, and many other domestic policy issues.  

The Everyone Graduates Center, part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, seeks to identify the barriers to high school graduation, develop strategic solutions to overcoming these barriers and build local capacity to implement and sustain the solutions so that all students graduate prepared for adult success.  

Region

Number of Low-Grad Rate

High Schools in 2002

Number of Low-Grad Rate

High Schools in 2010

Change in Number of Low-Grad Rate High Schools

2002-2010

Change in Number of Students Attending Low-Grad Rate High Schools

Northeast

 

 

 

 

New York

145

130

-15

-64,777

Pennsylvania

48

47

-1

-19,832

Connecticut

13

4

-9

-14,928

Massachusetts

24

18

-6

-10,917

New Jersey

24

22

-2

-6,797

Maine

4

1

-3

-2,437

Vermont

3

0

-3

-2,311

Rhode Island

7

5

-2

-1,690

New Hampshire

5

3

-2

1,784

Subtotal

273

230

-43

-121,905

Midwest

 

 

 

 

Indiana

30

15

-15

-19,070

Michigan

79

82

3

-14,229

Wisconsin

16

9

-7

-7,893

Iowa

4

1

-3

-4,669

Minnesota

6

5

-1

-4,082

Kansas

9

8

-1

-3,074

South Dakota

3

1

-2

2,864

Illinois

63

61

-2

-2,338

North Dakota

0

0

0

0

Missouri

25

25

0

1,604

Nebraska

4

5

1

2,015

Ohio

75

135

60

12,488

Subtotal

314

347

33

-42,112

South

 

 

 

 

Texas

240

118

-122

-151,488

Florida

162

100

-62

-130,586

Georgia

156

102

-54

-55,302

South Carolina

101

58

-43

-44,221

Tennessee

58

19

-39

-39,506

Alabama

71

35

-36

-27,260

North Carolina

106

78

-28

-26,096

Kentucky

39

18

-21

-17,863

Mississippi

52

35

-17

-17,260

Louisiana

64

60

-4

-10,692

Delaware

8

7

-1

3,533

West Virginia

6

3

-3

-2,824

Oklahoma

15

17

2

67

Virginia

26

26

0

3,144

Arkansas

5

12

7

4,964

Maryland

17

28

11

18,310

Subtotal

1,126

716

-410

-500,146

West

 

 

 

 

California

129

126

-3

-102,611

Arizona

37

22

-15

-21,945

Washington

32

15

-17

-21,442

Colorado

32

15

-17

-18,449

Oregon

7

0

-7

-5,945

Alaska

9

6

-3

-4,808

New Mexico

27

22

-5

-4,157

Montana

1

1

0

-216

Wyoming

1

2

1

135

Utah

1

2

1

1,914

Hawaii

6

13

7

5,732

Idaho

2

6

4

6,553

Nevada

8

27

19

39,790

Subtotal

292

257

-35

-125,449

TOTAL

2,005*

1,550

-455

-789,612

 

* The District of Columbia is not included because it is not a state. When DC is included in the national total, the number becomes 2,007.

 

State

2002 Grad Rate

2009 Grad Rate

Progress or Challenge

Alabama

62.1

69.9

Progress

Alaska

65.9

72.6

Progress

Arizona

74.7

72.5

Challenge

Arkansas

74.8

74.0

Challenge

California

72.7

71.0

Challenge

Colorado

74.7

77.6

Progress

Connecticut

79.7

75.4

Challenge

Delaware

69.5

73.7

Progress

District of Columbia

68.4

62.4

Challenge

Florida

63.4

68.9

Progress

Georgia

61.1

67.8

Progress

Hawaii

72.1

75.3

Progress

Idaho

79.3

80.6

Challenge

Illinois

77.1

77.7

Challenge

Indiana

73.1

75.2

Challenge

Iowa

84.1

85.7

Challenge

Kansas

77.1

70.2

Progress

Kentucky

69.8

77.6

Progress

Louisiana

64.4

67.3

Progress

Maine

75.6

79.9

Progress

Maryland

79.7

80.1

Challenge

Massachusetts

77.6

83.3

Progress

Michigan

72.9

75.3

Challenge

Minnesota

83.9

87.4

Progress

Mississippi

61.2

62.0

Challenge

Missouri

76.8

83.1

Progress

Montana

79.8

82.0

Challenge

Nebraska

83.9

82.9

Challenge

Nevada

71.9

56.3

Challenge

New Hampshire

77.8

84.3

Progress

New Jersey

85.8

85.3

Challenge

New York

60.5

73.5

Progress

North Carolina

68.2

75.1

Progress

North Dakota

85.0

87.4

Challenge

Ohio

77.5

79.6

Challenge

Oklahoma

76.0

77.3

Challenge

Oregon

71.0

76.5

Progress

Pennsylvania

80.2

80.5

Challenge

Rhode Island

75.7

75.3

Challenge

South Carolina

57.9

66.0

Progress

South Dakota

79.0

81.7

Progress

Tennessee

59.6

77.4

Progress

Texas

73.5

75.4

Challenge

Utah

80.5

79.4

Challenge

Vermont

82.0

89.6

Progress

Virginia

76.7

78.4

Challenge

Washington

72.2

73.7

Challenge

West Virginia

74.2

77.0

Progress

Wisconsin

84.8

90.7

Progress

Wyoming

74.4

75.2

Challenge

Nation

72.6

75.5

Progress


* Source: Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate, Common Core of Data, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.