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Number of Dropout Factories Drop

The 2012 report update of Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, released March 19 by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, shows that the nation continues to make progress, with more than half of states increasing graduation rates.

The report also reveals that the number of “dropout factory” high schools—those graduating 60 percent or fewer students on time—decreased by 457 between 2002 and 2010, with the rate of decline accelerating since 2008. The number of “dropout factories” totaled 1,550 in 2010, down from 1,634 in 2009 and a high of 2,007 in 2002. The number declined by 84 between 2009 and 2010. As a result, 790,000 fewer students attended dropout factories in 2010 than 2002.

Key Report Findings

  • The national graduation rate increased by 3.5 percentage points between 2001 and 2009 from 72 percent to 75.5 percent in 2009.
  • The South and the suburbs saw the largest declines in the number of “dropout factory” schools with 410 and 171, respectively, between 2002 and 2009.
  • Contrary to 2008-09, progress in towns and rural areas stalled in 2009-2010.
  • The following states saw the greatest change, decreasing the number of “dropout factory” schools by more than 50 between 2002 and 2010:  Texas (-122); Florida (-62); and Georgia (-54).  These states increased graduation rates during this period as well.
  • If each state had a graduation rate of 90 percent, 580,000 additional students would have graduated in the class of 2011, increasing the GDP by $6.6 billion and generating $1.8 billion in additional revenue as a result of increased economic activity.
  • The lagging states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and Utah—all states with lower high school graduation rates in 2009 than in 2002.
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