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2015 Building a Grad Nation Report

2015 Building a Grad Nation Report

Too many students are trapped in failing schools or in communities of intergenerational poverty with too few ways out.

This sixth annual report to the nation highlights the significant progress that has been made, but also the serious challenges that remain – closing gaping graduation gaps between various student populations; tackling the challenge in key states and school districts; and keeping the nation’s focus on ensuring that all students – whom Robert Putnam calls “our kids” – have an equal chance at the American Dream.

Though the challenge may seem large, to get to a 90 percent graduation rate for all students, the nation will need just 310,000 more graduates in the Class of 2020 than in the Class of 2013, which based on third-quarter progress, is attainable.


As the third quarter comes to a close and the fourth and final quarter begins, the nation will need to double down on its efforts to increase graduation rate outcomes for low-income, minority, and special  education students, and continue driving progress in big states and large school districts, where the majority of the country’s student population resides.

  1. Graduating on time is the norm for middle- and high-income students, but not for their low-income peers.
  2. Enrollment of students of color is growing rapidly across the country, and it is essential that states focus on improving graduation rates for these subgroups.
  3. The graduation rate gap between students with disabilities and students in the general population ranges from 3.3 percentage points to 58.8 points.
  4. In the United States, there are 500 public school districts with K-12 enrollments of 15,000 or more that collectively educate 40 percent of all public school students.
  5. Fifty-five percent of America’s public high school students live in just 10 states. These Big States are home to nearly 8.5 million of the nation’s 14.7 million public high school students.

We also provide policy recommendations at the end of each section, and have compiled a list of further federal and state policy recommendations at the end of the report.

Download the Full Report

Download the 2014-2015 Update – Building a Grad Nation Executive summary, available here in pdf, and the Full Report, available here in pdf.

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