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School Dropout Rates Are Dropping, but Are Still No Cause for Celebration

By Andrew J. Rotherham
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High school graduation rates are one of education’s perennial bad-news stories. How bad? In 2008, there were 1,746 “dropout factories,” high schools that graduate fewer than 60% of their students. But according to a new report released on Tuesday, there is finally some good news to talk about. First, the national graduation rate inched up from 72% in 2001 to 75% in 2008. There were 261 fewer dropout factories in 2008 than in 2002. And during that six-year period, 29 states improved their graduation rates, with two of them — Wisconsin and Vermont — reaching almost a 90% rate.

But don’t call in the cast of Glee just yet. According to the report, by Johns Hopkins University, along with two education-oriented groups, America’s Promise Alliance and Civic Enterprises, eight states had graduation rates below 70% in 2008, and 2.2 million students still attend dropout factories. An achievement gap also persists: only 64% of Hispanic students and 62% of African Americans graduated in 2008, while 81% of white students did.

Read the full column at TIME.com