Wednesday, December 01, 2010

EDUCATION - Graduation Rates

"Graduation Report 'Encouraging,' But Many Schools Risk 'Dropout Factory' Status" PBS Newshour Transcript 11/30/2010 (includes video)


MARGARET WARNER (Newshour): After years of decline, high school graduation rates in the U.S. are on the upswing. That news came from a new report issued today by the America's Promise Alliance, a nonprofit group founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

At an event in Washington with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Powell said he was encouraged, but there's much more to be done.

COLIN POWELL, founding chair, America's Promise Alliance: So, what we have to do is get everybody in the country, businesses, political organizations, nonprofit organizations, to all come together in a coordinated way to get into the lives of our kids, to get into our schools, give those schools resources that the kids need in order to be successful in life.

There's no child that starts out in life wanting to be unsuccessful. No child starts out wanting to be a dropout.

MARGARET WARNER: Among the good news, the national graduation rate hit 75 percent in 2008, up from 72 percent in 2001. And the number of so-called dropout factories, high schools where fewer than 60 percent of freshmen graduate four years later, declined to 1,750 in 2008, down from some 2,000 in 2002.

Twenty-nine states improved their graduation rates through such approaches as setting up early warning systems to flag struggling students, raising the compulsory attendance age, taking driver's licenses away from dropouts, and getting parents more involved.

But, in 18 states, graduation rates didn't move. And three states, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, saw their rates slip significantly. Researchers also found a persistent gap based on race and ethnicity. More than 80 percent of white students graduated in 2008, but fewer than 65 percent of Hispanic or black students did.

Good news, but we need to do better, especially in the race-ethnicity gap.

By the way, hats off to Tennessee.

MARGARET WARNER: ... or improved their dropout numbers.

But give us a specific example. Pick a state that really turned their numbers around. What did they do?

JOHN BRIDGELAND, CEO, Civic Enterprises: Let's take the leader, the state of Tennessee.

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