Public Media Is Helping
Local Communities Keep
More Students on the Path
to a High School Diploma,
College & Successful Careers

About the Initiative

Welcome to the American Graduate Research Center, where you can find the latest and most accessible statistics and research on the high school dropout crisis.

How Can Public Media Help Foster Kids’ Learning? A guest blog post by Debra Sanchez for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center

American Graduate Evaluation from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education: The research finds that the American Graduate initiative has succeeded in building community capacity to meet the national priority of ending America’s high school dropout crisis.

Graduation Rate FAQs


  • For the first time, America is on track to meet the national goal of 90% graduation rate by 2020.grad-nation-report-cover-200
  • Even with these gains, America still loses about one out of five young people to the dropout crisis each year.
  • Every year, nearly one million school-aged children in the US do not graduate high school with their peers.
  • There are 11 states in which the graduation rate for white students is 89% or higher, but no state where this is true for African American, Hispanic or economically disadvantaged students.
  • On average, the graduation rate among African-American and Hispanic students is less than 69%.
  • Raising the graduation rate in 2011 to 90% would have increased the GDP by $6.6 billion.
  • High school graduates are more likely to be employed, make higher taxable incomes, and generate jobs than those without a high school diploma.
  • Graduates are less likely to engage in criminal behavior or receive social services.
  • Read the full report: The 2013 Annual Update of Building a Grad Nation - provides an analysis of the latest graduation rate data and a comprehensive review on efforts to accelerate student achievement from across the nation.


Tavis Smiley: Too Important to FailTavis Smiley Reports: Too Important to FailFrontline: Middle School MomentFrontline: Middle School MomentNewsHour: Detroit Tackles Dropout Crisis


Graduation Data by State

Two states have a 90 percent high school graduation rate. Eighteen states are on pace to reach this goal by 2020. Seven states need to further accelerate their progress to reach this goal, and 23 states are off-pace. Find out how your state is doing:

Consult The Grad Nation Community Guidebook

Grad-nation-community-guideThe Grad Nation Community Guidebook is a research-based toolkit for communities working to raise graduation rates and better support children and youth from birth through college. Created in collaboration with Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, the Community Guidebook offers approaches and tools that all communities—regardless of their size, location and challenges—can incorporate at any stage in their work.

The Community Guidebook compiles current research and outlines proven solutions and best practices including school and community interventions, for raising graduation rates. It provides a comprehensive framework to help communities design local dropout prevention efforts.  It contains 16 tools to help communities  determine their actual graduation rate and dropout profile, establish an early warning system and attendance tracker, analyze student and school performance and conduct an assessment of individual and organizational assets and the current policy landscape.

Expand Your Research

2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection - compiled data from all 97,000 of the nation’s public schools and its 16,500 school districts -- representing 49 million students. State-, district-, and school-level information is accessible to the public, in a searchable online database at Among the key findings:


·       Access to preschool.  About 40% of districts do not offer preschool, and, where it is available, it is mostly part-day.  Of the districts that operate public preschool programs, barely half are available to all students within the district.


·       Suspension of preschool children.  African-American students represent 18% of preschool enrollment but 42% of preschool students suspended once and 48% of preschool students suspended more than once.


·       Access to advanced courses.  81% of Asian-American students and 71% of white students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics) are offered.  However, less than half of American Indian and Native Alaskan students in high school have access to the full range of math and science courses.  Black students (57%), Hispanic students (67%), English learners (65%), and students with disabilities (63%) also have less access to the full range of courses.


·       Access to college counselors.  Nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor.

·       Retention of high school students.  12% of black students are retained in ninth-grade, about double the rate that all students are retained.  Also, English learners and students with disabilities represent 5% and 12% of high school enrollment, respectively, but 11% and 19% of students retained a year, respectively.

Get Schooled Report: How is Technology Addressing the College Access Gap?

The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013: First-Generation Students

Alliance for Excellent Education - Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings

Attendance Works Count Us In Toolkit - Working together to show that every school day matters

Policy Brief: The Attendance Imperative - How states can advance achievement by reducing chronic absence

Feeder Pattern Guide from United Way - United Way Worldwide, Civic Enterprises, and Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University have developed a guide to help you and your community partners identify school feeder patterns – and help your community begin the critical discussion on using that data to boost graduation rates.

America's Promise Alliance: Identifying Gaps and Opportunities in Financial Aid Services - Insights from a survey of America's Promise Alliance partners

PBS LearningMedia Survey Finds Teachers are Embracing Digital Resources to Propel Student Learning- A national survey of pre-K-12 teachers that provides a current snapshot of how teachers are utilizing technology in America’s classrooms, the types of technology teachers have access to and their attitudes toward technology.

Civil Rights Data Collection- National data tool for analyzing equity
and educational opportunities. It reveals new truths about the journey America’s young people
take from pre- kindergarten through high school graduation. 

Middle school predictors of high school achievement in three California school districts.
Kurlaender, M., Reardon, S., & Jackson, J. (2008).
CDRP Report 13. Santa Barbara, CA: California Dropout Research Project.

What factors predict high school graduation in the Los Angeles Unified School District?
Silver, D., Saunders, M., & Zarate, E. (2008).
CDRP Report 14. Santa Barbara, CA: California Dropout Research Project.

Does poor health contribute to dropping out of high school?
Breslau, J. (2010). Santa Barbara, CA: California Dropout Research Project, University
of California, Santa Barbara.

Education pays 2010: The benefits of higher education for individuals and society.
Baum, S., Ma, J., & Payea (2010).
Washington, D.C.: College Board.

Why students drop out of school: A review of 25 years of research.
Rumberger, R. W. & Lim, S. A. (2008).
Santa Barbara, CA: California Dropout Research Project.

Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of School and What Can Be Done About It
Dropping Out offers a comprehensive overview by one of the country's leading experts, and
provides answers to fundamental questions: Who drops out, and why? What happens to them
when they do? How can we prevent at-risk kids from short-circuiting their futures?


The unique perspectives of those impacted by the dropout crisis are highlighted in these reports:

Map the Pace of Grad Rate Progress


Public Media Is
Proud To Work With: