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2015 Building a Grad Nation Report: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

May 12, 2015

This sixth annual report to the nation highlights the significant progress that has been made, but also the serious challenges that remain – closing gaping graduation gaps between various student populations; tackling the challenge in key states and school districts; and keeping the nation's focus on ensuring that all students – whom Robert Putnam calls "our kids" – have an equal chance at the American Dream

Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

February 1, 2013

This fourth annual update on America's high school dropout crisis shows that for the first time the nation is on track to meet the goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020 -- if the pace of improvement from 2006 to 2010 is sustained over the next 10 years. The greatest gains have occurred for the students of color and low-income students most affected by the dropout crisis. Many schools, districts and states are making significant gains in boosting high school graduation rates and putting more students on a path to college and a successful career. This progress is often the result of having better data, an understanding of why and where students drop out, a heightened awareness of the consequences to individuals and the economy, a greater understanding of effective reforms and interventions, and real-world examples of progress and collaboration. These factors have contributed to a wider understanding that the dropout crisis is solvable.While progress is encouraging, a deeper look at the data reveals that gains in graduation rates and declines in dropout factory high schools occurred unevenly across states and subgroups of students (e.g. economically disadvantaged, African American, Hispanic, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency). As a result, large "graduation gaps" remain in many states among students of different races, ethnicities, family incomes, disabilities and limited English proficiencies. To repeat the growth in graduation rates in the next ten years experienced in the second half of the last decade, and to ensure progress for all students, the nation must turn its attention to closing the graduation gap by accelerating progress for student subgroups most affected by the dropout crisis.This report outlines the progress made and the challenges that remain. Part 1: The Data analyzes the latest graduation rates and "dropout factory" trends at the state and national levels. Part 2: Progress and Challenge provides an update on the nation's shared efforts to implement the Civic Marshall Plan to reach the goal of at least a 90 percent high school graduation rate for the Class of 2020 and all classes that follow. Part 3: Paths Forward offers recommendations on how to accelerate our work and achieve our goals, with all students prepared for college and career. The report also offers "snapshots" within schools, communities, and organizations from Orlando to Oakland that are making substantial gains in boosting high school graduation rates.

Overcoming the Poverty Challenge to Enable College and Career Readiness for All: The Crucial Role of Student Supports

February 1, 2013

This white paper focuses on an important and under-conceptualized thread in the weave of efforts needed to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and/or career training: enhanced student supports. It argues that in order to overcome the educational impacts of poverty -- the poverty challenge, schools that serve high concentrations of low income students need to be able to provide direct, evidence-based supports that help students attend school regularly, act in a productive manner, believe they will succeed, overcome external obstacles, complete their coursework, and put forth the effort required to graduate college- and career-ready. Next, it highlights the unique role that nonprofits, community volunteers, and full-time national service members can play in the implementation of these direct student supports. It concludes by exploring how federal and state policy and funding can be designed to promote the implementation and spread of evidence-based, direct student supports. The paper draws on the emerging evidence base to examine these topics, and calls upon the insights gleaned through the author's fifteen years of participant-observation in the effort to create schools strong enough to overcome the ramifications of poverty and prepare all students for adult success.

On the Front Lines of Schools: The Perspectives of Principals on the High School Dropout Problem

June 10, 2009

Explores teachers' and administrators' views on the causes of dropouts and support for reforms such as higher academic expectations, alternative learning environments, smaller classes, early detection, and better parental outreach. Makes recommendations.

Engaged for Success: Service-Learning as a Tool for High School Dropout Prevention

April 30, 2008

Outlines service-learning -- learning through investigating a community problem, planning a solution, taking action, and reflecting on results -- as a strategy to reduce dropouts, prepare students for college, and instill civic responsibility.

Unfulfilled Promise: The Dimensions and Characteristics of Philadelphia's Dropout Crisis, 2000-05

October 1, 2006

Examines extensive data from schools and social service agencies to establish Philadelphia's public high school graduation rate, and provides recommendations for cities across the country to use in solving their dropout problem.