June 11, 2019
New In Depth Analysis of High School Graduation Rates Reveals Progress is Real, But Slowing, Indicating Urgency to Double Down on Equity Gaps
"Thanks to sustained and focused efforts by districts, states, and the nation over the past decade and a half, millions of additional students have graduated high school rather than dropping out," says John Bridgeland, CEO and Founder of Civic. "Yet, students continue to live in two educational nations -- with most students in high schools with a graduation rate already at 90 percent, while other students remain trapped in low-performing high schools where the average graduation rate is only 40 percent."
Connecting the Dots: High School and College Readiness
The Secondary School Improvement Index uses the percent of students scoring proficient in reading and mathematics on the 8th grade NAEP exam, the percent of high school graduates who score a three or higher on Advanced Placement tests, and the percent of students who graduate on time within four years to determine the extent to which states have improved both graduation rates and academic outcomes. This analysis indicates there is no strong evidence at the national level that gains in high school graduation rates have come at the expense of college readiness. And, in most states, improvements in other measures of secondary school success have coincided with graduation rate increases?signaling that increases in high school graduation rates represent legitimate gains in preparedness. This is balanced by the fact that nearly one third of states did not experience these outcomes and can do better in making gains in both high school graduation rates and other indicators of academic achievement.
"Many states and districts have worked very hard over the past decades to raise graduation rates and academic achievement," states Robert Balfanz, Director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. "While considerable work remains to ensure all students are graduating high school prepared for post-secondary success, the secondary school index highlights that the majority of states' efforts have paid off with more students graduating and being prepared for college level work."
Closing Gaps To Reach 90 Percent Graduation Rate
The 2019 Building Grad Nation report provides the first-ever glimpse of homeless students' graduation rates. Homeless students face multiple barriers to graduation above and beyond poverty alone, and preliminary data suggest that this population may have the lowest graduation rate of any subgroup in the country. The Education Leads Home campaign of Civic, Schoolhouse Connection, and America's Promise, is engaging schools, states, and the nation in an effort to boost these graduation rates.
"To press forward, we need to focus on the places and populations where we still need to make progress. The preliminary data on homeless youth provide a window into the kind of challenges many young people face and the need for urgent action to address the needs and unlock the potential of every young person," said John Gomperts, President and CEO at America's Promise Alliance.
The Every School Succeeds Act requires all states to submit disaggregated graduation rates for homeless students for the first time in 2017-2018, holding states accountable for their progress. This year, however, the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) calculated a national graduation rate of 64 percent for homeless students based on data voluntarily shared with the Department of Education by 44 states. In addition, 26 states shared their graduation rates for homeless students with the Education Leads Home campaign, which are highlighted in this report.
"There are more than 1.3 million homeless PreK-12 students?an all-time high. We know that youth experiencing homelessness are 87 percent more likely to drop out of high school," said Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection. "And without a high school degree, youth are at much greater risk of experiencing homelessness as young adults. But this tragic outcome can be prevented. States and schools can embrace the strong policies that are already on the books, and adopt best practices to support the social, emotional, and academic needs of homeless students."
"Preparing students for a successful future certainly does not end with a high school diploma; however, it is a critical first step," said Deb Delisle, CEO of the Alliance for Excellent Education. "We can celebrate the historic gains in high school graduation rates, but we must also recognize that a high school diploma remains out of reach for many of the nation's students of color, students from low-income families, and other historically underserved students. We know that all students can succeed when given the necessary supports and opportunities. Our challenge is to energize a collective political will to do so."
Authors and Sponsors
To read the full report and to access state and district data and other resources, visit: americaspromise.org/2019-building-grad-nation-report.
Civic is a public policy and strategy firm that helps corporations, nonprofits, foundations, universities, and governments develop and spearhead innovative public policies to strengthen our communities and country. Created to enlist the private, public and nonprofit sectors to help address our nation's toughest problems, Civic fashions new initiatives and strategies that achieve measurable results in the fields of education, civic engagement, economic mobility, and many other domestic policy issues. www.civicllc.net
The Everyone Graduates Center at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education seeks to identify the barriers to high school graduation, develop strategic solutions to overcoming these barriers and build local capacity to implement and sustain the solutions so that all students graduate prepared for adult success. www.every1graduates.org
America's Promise Alliance is the driving force behind a nationwide movement to improve the lives and futures of America's youth. Its work is anchored in the belief that every young person deserves to succeed, and every adult is responsible for making that happen. By bringing together hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, community and civic leaders, educators, citizens, and young people, the Alliance does what no single organization can do on its own: catalyze action on a scale that reaches millions of young people. www.AmericasPromise.org
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. www.all4ed.org
SOURCE America's Promise Alliance]]>