The high school dropout problem is getting better in some big cities where it’s most severe, a national study has found.
But the situation remains dismal: More than one in four students drops out of high school in the United States.
Still, Philadelphia, Tucson, Ariz., and Kansas City, Mo., made huge gains over the past decade, boosting graduation rates by 20 percentage points or more, the study found. In all, 13 cities saw double-digit improvement in their graduation rates, according to the study released last week by the Washington-based America’s Promise Alliance.
“The majority of these large cities are making improvements, and that’s something you wouldn’t necessarily get if you’ve been listening to this debate recently,” said Christopher B. Swanson, the director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which prepared the report. Editorial Projects in Education, based in Bethesda, Md., also publishes Education Week.
Urban schools still have a long way to go, though, the study found. On average, only half the students graduate in the 50 biggest cities, the report says. And while most big cities are making gains, 19 have lost ground. Las Vegas saw its graduation rates plummet 23 percentage points to 44.5 percent. The graduation rate in Wichita, Kan., dropped 18 percentage points to 54.5 percent, and in Omaha, Neb., it dropped 15 percentage points to 50 percent.
The report measures progress from 1995 to 2005, the most recent year for which comprehensive data were available from the U.S. Department of Education.
A version of this article appeared in the April 29, 2009 edition of Education Week