March 28, 2011

Report: Number of ‘dropout factory’ high schools continues to decline

The United States continues to make progress in its efforts to keep students in school, according to a new report co-authored by Robert Balfanz, a senior research scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center.

In Updating Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, a report released March 22, Balfanz and his colleagues at America’s Promise Alliance and Civic Enterprises found that the number of high schools graduating 60 percent or less of their students on time decreased by 112 between 2008 and 2009, the most current data available.

These schools—often identified as “lowest performing” or “dropout factories”—totaled 1,634 in 2009. This is down from 1,746 in 2008 and a high of 2,007 in 2002. As a result, 183,701 fewer students attended “dropout factories” in 2009 than in 2008.

“Our data and case studies show that improvement is continuing and even accelerating in some areas,” Balfanz said in a statement. “This means that real progress is possible when school districts and community partners confront this crisis strategically and commit themselves to solving it.”

The report, sponsored by AT&T, is an update to one released in November 2010.