New legislation introduced in Congress proposes to reduce the U.S. high school dropout rate in an effort to reach a national graduation rate of 90 percent. The bill also would require states to use a consistent method to report graduation data.
The Every Student Counts Act, introduced April 7 by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., notes that according to a 2008 Department of Labor report, by 2016 almost 90 percent of the fastest-growing and best-paying jobs in the country will require at least some postsecondary education.
Roughly one out of every three students entering ninth grade each year will fail to graduate from high school four years later. Almost half of black and Hispanic students who enter ninth grade fail to graduate within four years.
Stakeholders say that “dropout factories”—schools with exceptionally high dropout rates—play a large part in the graduation epidemic. Roughly 10 percent of U.S. secondary schools produce about half of the nation’s dropouts. In fact, the number of seniors in such schools is consistently 60 percent or less than the number of freshmen who entered the school three years prior.
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A November 2010 report, “Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic,” revealed that the graduation rate for U.S. high schools increased from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008. The report also indicated a decline in dropout factories—there were 261 fewer dropout factories in 2008 than there were in 2002, which is roughly a 13 percent decrease.