One of the most fundamental tasks of public education is to ensure that students graduate with a diploma that prepares them for future education, work, and citizenship. But for the school year now ending, an estimated 1.2 million U.S. students, most of them members of minority groups, will fail to graduate with their peers. That’s about 30 percent of the class of 2006.
Starting with this special issue of Education Week, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center and the newspaper plan to shed light on the crucial subject of high school graduation rates through the Graduation Project, an annual report produced with support from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Diplomas Count: An Essential Guide to Graduation Policy and Rates, the first edition, provides detailed data on graduation rates across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and in the nation’s 50 largest school districts. The analysis is based on the Cumulative Promotion Index developed by Christopher B. Swanson, the director of the EPE Research Center and a prominent expert on graduation data.
The report also tracks state policies related to high school graduation requirements.
Along with a wealth of statistical information, Diplomas Count features closer looks at why high school graduation matters, states’ wide differences in measuring graduation rates, the factors that predict whether a student is likely to drop out, the worth of the General Educational Development credential, and research-backed ways for educators to help more students stay in school and earn diplomas.
— The Editors