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.