Great gains in high school graduation rates


Great news!! The U.S. is on-track to have a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2020 according to a new report from America’s Promise Alliance.

Such news should be plastered all over the newspapers and lead the nightly news. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. But it is news worth celebrating nonetheless.

Specifically, the report found:


  • As of 2010, the national on-time graduation rate is 78.5 percent up from 71.7 percent in 2001, a 6.5 percentage point increase.
  • The graduation rate has increased by 5 percentage points between 2006 and 2010.
  • Due to this increase, nearly 200,000 more students graduated in 2010 than would have if the rate remained the same as in 2006.
  • If this annual improvement is maintained over the next decade the U.S. will have a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2020.
  • Hispanic and African American graduation rates made significant rains during this time period.
  • Two states, Wisconsin and Vermont, already have achievement a 90 percent on-time graduation rate.
  • Over one million (1.1 million) fewer students attended so-called ‘Dropout Factories’ in 2011 compared to 2002. Such schools graduate less than half of their incoming 9thgraders within four years.
  • The percent of African American students attending dropout factories declined from nearly 50 percent in 2002 to just 25 percent in 2011.
  • Hispanic students were also less likely to attend a dropout factory, where the percent of Hispanic students attending such schools declined from nearly 39 percent to 17 percent over the same time period.

Of course, there is a lot more work to be done but our schools should be given credit where credit is due. For decades our on-time graduation rate stubbornly hovered around the 70 percent mark with no signs of budging. And now it is closing in on 80 percent and heading towards 90 percent by 2020.

Our teachers and administrators should take pride in making such progress and policymakers should support them with the resources they need by investing in early dropout warning systems and high quality dropout preventions as well as ensure all students have access to effective teachers and a rigorous curriculum. These are tools our research shows have helped move our on-time graduation rate to nearly 80 percent and will be vital in graduating 90 percent of students by 2020.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.