Magazine article State Legislatures

A Good Report Card for High Schools

Magazine article State Legislatures

A Good Report Card for High Schools

Article excerpt

High school graduation rates are on the rise, especially among Hispanics and African-Americans. An estimated 78.2 percent of all students who were freshmen in 2006 received diplomas in 2010, a 6.5 point increase over 2001's rate of 71.7 percent, according to a recent report by America's Promise Alliance and other organizations. The increase is the most significant in 40 years. Hispanics showed a gain of more than 10 percentage points (61 percent to 71.4 percent), and the African-American rate improved seven percentage points (59.2 percent to 66.1 percent.)

The costs of dropping out are high--to the student, the states and the nation. Dropouts earn less, have fewer job opportunities, and are far more likely to spend their lives periodically unemployed, on government assistance, or cycling in and out of prison. State legislatures play critical roles in holding schools and districts accountable, setting expectations and raising public awareness of the problem.

The gains in graduation rates coincide with stepped-up efforts across the country to reform large, low-performing schools with high dropout rates. Districts around the country have closed some schools with the worst track records and reorganized others, often by breaking them into smaller schools within schools and assigning them new leaders. Educators have focused on providing more individualized instruction, building support networks for ninth-graders, and intervening early with students whose chronic absences, poor behavior or struggles in reading and math signal trouble. …

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