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New Grad Nation Report Released

by Ernie Melcher

The 2016 Building a Grad Nation Report written annually by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and released in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, examines the progress and challenges the nation faces in reaching the GradNation goal of a national on-time graduation rate of 90 percent by the Class of 2020.

The nation has achieved an 82.3 percent high school graduation rate – a record high.
Graduation rates rose for all student subgroups, and the number of low-graduation-rate high schools and students enrolled in them dropped again, indicating that progress has had far-reaching benefits for all students.

This progress, however, has not come without its challenges.

First, this year the nation is slightly off pace to reach a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2020.

Second, at both the national and state levels, troubling graduation gaps remain between White students and their Black and Latino peers, low-income and non-low-income students, and students with and without disabilities.

Third, low-graduation-rate high schools – a key focus of the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act – pose a significant roadblock to the national goal of a 90 percent graduation rate for all students. While the number of low-graduation-rate high schools has declined considerably over the past decade, in some states they still predominate.

The 2016 Building a Grad Nation report is the first to analyze 2014 graduation data using new criteria established by ESSA and the first to show the impact of additional time on graduation rates.

If all states were required to report five-year graduation rates, the national high school grad rate would go up about 3 percentage points. If all states were required to report six-year grad rates, the rate would go up an additional point.

In addition, the report provides a new national and state-by-state analysis of low-graduation-rate high schools; the number of additional students it will take for the country and each state to reach 90 per-cent; a look at the validity of graduation rates; and policy recommendations for change.

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