High school graduation rates are inching up to more than 75%, that’s the conclusion of a report released monday.   It’s also good news that from 2008 to 2009 (the most current data available), the number of dropout factory high schools decreased by an additional 112 schools to 1,634.

Compared to 2002 (when a new Seattle foundation took this issue on) almost there has been a decline of nearly 800,000 in ‘dropout factory’ enrollment.

Let’s pause and note that we’re discussing 2009 data–32 months after the fact.  As we’ve noted here, its crazy that the CEO of Ford can hold a press conference on February 1 and discuss his worldwide January sales and we’re still trying to figure out who graduated from American high schools three years ago.  States need to finish the work outlined in the Data Quality Campaign and get ready for Big Data.

The report urges continued pressure on grad rate accountability (based on the 2005 NGA Grad Rate Compact), continued focus on replacing dropout factories and wrap out local efforts to support students.

Thanks goes to the report partners–Everyone Graduates Center At Johns Hopkins, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and Civic Enterprises–for long standing commitment to addressing this epidemic.  With America’s Promise, they “are launching a “Civic Marshall Plan,” comprising policymakers, educators, business leaders, community allies, parents and students to address the dropout epidemic by focusing on the dropout factory high schools and their feeder elementary and middle schools.”

Alliance President Gov Bob Wise was also chair of Digital Learning Now!, a state policy framework seeking to accelerate the shift to personal digital learning and expand learning opportunities–especially for America’s high school students.

For more, view “Educating Our Way Out of the Economic Crisis” by John Bridgeland and Robert Balfanz on the Huffington Post.

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