Grad rates up, but still work to do heaer

Opinion

Grad rates up, but still work to do

Jim Clark

The recent release of federal data showing the U.S. high school graduation rate has hit 80 percent is fantastic news. For the first time in our nation’s history, 4 out of 5 students earned a high school diploma within four years of beginning 9th grade. That’s huge. If this rate is upheld, we could see a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020. That would be momentous.

This positive change is definitely worth celebrating. Even so, we should remember the 1 out of 5 kids still not graduating on time – or at all. “Don’t Call Them Dropouts,” a new report from America’s Promise Alliance, brings that point home in eye-opening fashion.

The report’s title comes from the many participants who said they did not “drop out” of school. Instead, they felt they could no longer attend because of pressing issues, such as having to work to support their family, helping a sick family member, or escaping an unsafe environment at school.

Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with more than 200 young people who had not graduated from high school. They also surveyed more than 2,000 young adults, ages 18-25, who did not finish high school on time, as well as 1,000 students who did graduate on time.

A common thread runs through all the stories in the report. Generally speaking, these kids felt they had nobody watching out for them, nobody to help put them on a track toward long-term success.

At Boys & Girls Clubs, we’re always looking for new ways to keep kids on the path to Great Futures. This report offers insights to help all adults lend a helping hand to the kids in our lives. The compelling research can be read in full at GradNation.org.