Grad Nation: Building a Grad Nation, Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, 2015-2016 Annual Update

The report is based on the most recent comprehensive data from the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education (2013-14). The 2016 report provides a new national and state-by-state examination of graduation rates for regular district, charter, virtual and alternative schools, a look at the validity of graduation rates, and policy recommendations for change.
The nation has achieved an 82.3 percent high school graduation rate – a new record high – and had another year of significant gains for nearly all student subgroups. These gains have been made possible by the schools, districts, and states that prioritized raising their graduation rates and made sure more students leave high school equipped with a high-quality diploma. Over the past decade, a majority of states increased the number of students graduating high school on time, and put themselves in good position to reach a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. At the same time, the number of high schools failing to graduate one-third or more of students has been reduced, meaning fewer students are attending high schools where graduation is not the norm. All of this progress, however, is tempered by the fact that this year the national rate of improvement – 0.9 percentage points – puts the nation off pace to reach the 90 percent goal, and marked the first time since 2011 the national graduation rate increased by less than one point. There are also very real concerns that too many of our most vulnerable students remain in low-graduation-rate schools, and that the alternative pathways that have been created to meet their needs may, in many cases, not be up to the task. Additionally, questions have been raised about the validity of rising graduation rates and whether the increasing number of high school diplomas being earned is translating into success in postsecondary education and careers. In this year’s Building a Grad Nation report, we examine these issues further and explore both the important progress the nation has made and the considerable challenges that remain.
Grad Nation, Dropout Crisis