America’s Promise Alliance launched the GradNation campaign in 2010, building on 105 Dropout Prevention Summits it convened across the country to raise awareness and inspire action. GradNation is based on the recognition that a high school diploma is a crucial first step in preparing a young person to live an independent, secure and happy life and to contribute to America’s economic competitiveness as part of an educated, innovative workforce.
The campaign has two central goals:
- achieving a 90 percent graduation rate nationwide by 2020, with no high school graduating less than 80 percent of its students
- regaining America’s standing as first in the world in college completion
GradNation has developed into a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to prepare all young people for success. The campaign mobilizes people across the country to help children and youth receive the Five Promises, the fundamental resources they need to thrive and succeed: Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others.
GradNation’s strategy includes paying special attention to the communities surrounding the nation’s lowest-performing high schools, which account for half of all dropouts.
Progress – And Work Remaining
High school graduation rates continue to improve nationally and across many states and school districts. New research reveals more than half of the states increased graduation rates since 2002, bringing the national graduation rate to 78 percent – the highest it has ever been. If the country maintains the current rate of progress, it will reach the 2020 goal of having 90 percent of students graduate.
There are other signs of progress. The number of high schools graduating 60 percent or fewer students — often referred to as “dropout factories” — also declined 23 percent. Nearly 800,000 fewer students now attend dropout factories.
But we still have much to do to meet our goals. There are significant graduation gaps from state to state, among students of difference races and economic backgrounds, and students with disabilities and limited English proficiency.
There is also the challenge of making sure a diploma means that a student is ready for college and career. There remains much opportunity to raise standards so that every student excels.
The GradNation campaign is focused on continuing that progress.