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2012 Building a Grad Nation Report

2012 Building a Grad Nation Report

Although some states and school districts show that the dropout crisis can be solved, other states and districts are lagging, with 10 states having lower high school graduation rates recently compared to earlier in the decade. The pace across the country must be accelerated more than three-fold to meet the national goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. The strong relationship between education and the economy frames this year’s report to reinforce what is at stake in strengthening our nation and preserving access to the American Dream for generations to come.


This report shows that high school graduation rates continue to improve nationally and across many states and school districts, with 12 states accounting for the majority of new graduates over the last decade. Tennessee and New York continue to lead the nation with double-digit gains in high school graduation rates over the same period. The number of “dropout factory” high schools—and the number of students attending them—has also declined significantly over the last decade, particularly within suburbs and towns and in the South, and at a more accelerated rate within cities in recent years.

Other progress on the “Civic Marshall Plan” to build a Grad Nation, including progress in meeting the goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate for the Class of 2020, gives us hope that these positive trends can continue. One state has now met the national high school graduation rate goal and another state has nearly done so; improvements are being made against the early benchmarks of the plan; and a significant number of institutions with reach into schools and communities are aligning their efforts with the Civic Marshall Plan’s benchmarks.

Download the Full Report

Download the 2011/2012 Update – Building a Grad Nation Executive summary, available here in pdf, and the Full Report, available here in pdf.

See Civic Marshall Plan State Progress and Challenge Indices here.


    Bradley dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. At the age of 26 years, he sat his GED exams and passed. Bradley is is an African-American male.

    What were the main factors that enabled Bradley to pass his GED?

    Bradley applied for a job that required him to have a high school diploma or GED. The need for a job was his major driving force. But there were external forces impacting on Bradley, as well.

    The second motivator was that Bradley’s homebackground became more stable. He had a roof over his head and ate three meals every day. His rent and food were paid for, since he was unemployed.

    The third motivator was the presence of four college graduates in Bradley’s life. They had academic oriented conversations with Bradley that caused him to switch on his achievement motivation. Two of his mentors tutored him for a few sessions. The time came when Bradley took control of his own learning, and did his GED revision on his own.

    The fourth motivator was a special love that Bradley had for his grandmother. She told him that she wanted to see him graduate before she died. Days before she died, Bradley brought his GED certificate to her.

  2. Jade Sprague09-21-12

    I may only be in 8th grade, but i really want to be able to stay in high school. I hope that everyone will at least try and stay in school. It may suck now, but you’ll benifit from it in the future

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