Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic
In March 2010, the Pearson Foundation hosted its first annual Pearson Dropout Prevention Roundtable, a summit of U.S. education leaders convened to discuss potential scalable solutions to the national dropout crisis.
In November 2010, we joined business, government, education, and child advocacy leaders in releasing Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, a comprehensive report that incorporates many of the conclusions of the attendees who took part in the March gathering.
As Building a Grad Nation clearly explains, over the last decade educators, researchers, and administrators have made significant progress in articulating the dimensions and causes of the dropout problem. The research, produced by America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center of The Johns Hopkins University, documents the resulting progress in improving high school graduation rates – even in low-income urban and rural school districts.
Thanks to these efforts, some communities have been able to fashion significant breakthroughs, and 29 states have lowered their dropout rates. However, at least one-fourth of all public high school students and nearly 40 percent of minority students continue to fail to graduate with their class.
Building a Grad Nation highlights the successful practices of schools, districts, and cities across the United States and outlines the steps that must be taken if the nation is to significantly and effectively address the dropout epidemic. These initiatives respond directly to a goal articulated by President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to regain world leadership status in graduation rates: a U.S. high school graduation rate of 90 percent by the year 2020, including completion of at least one year of post-secondary education or training.
The strategies for achieving this goal have become known as the Civic Marshall Plan. As a key part of the larger Grad Nation campaign, the Civic Marshall Plan’s goal is a 90 percent graduation rate nationwide with all students ready for college and the 21st century workforce. Like its namesake, the Civic Marshall Plan focuses on using the main levers for which there is evidence of success in addressing the dropout problem, and emphasizes a multi-sector approach that engages national, state and community stakeholders in different roles to effect individual, community, state and national outcomes.