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New National Graduation Rate Report: Missouri Improves, Kansas Not So Much

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Missouri is one of 12 states leading the nation in increasing high school graduation rates, while the number of graduates in Kansas has not increased significantly, according to a new report released this week during the Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C.

“There are 12 states whose efforts accounted for the majority of additional high school graduates, collectively accounting for 104,000 of the nation’s 134,000 additional graduates in 2009,” according to the report.

And one of those 12 states is Missouri, which increased its graduation rate by 6.3 percent. Kansas also made some progress, increasing its rate by 3.1 percent. Nationally, the graduation rate has increased at least 3.5 percent in the first decade of the 21st century.

Although the authors of Building a Grad Nation praised Missouri schools for increasing their graduation rates, they also expressed some concern for the state. Of the 12 leaders in increasing graduation rates, only Missouri showed no improvement in reducing the number of students attending high schools the report refers to as “dropout factories.” The report defines these as “places where graduating is not the norm.” Kansas reduced its number of students attending such schools slightly but not significantly.

The goal of the America’s Promise Alliance, one of the report sponsors, is to increase the graduation rate nationwide to 90 percent by 2020. According to the report’s calculations, Missouri’s graduation rate increased from 76.8 percent in 2002 to 83.1 percent in 2009. Kansas’ rate increased from 77.1 to 80.2 percent during the same time period.

Beginning last year, the U.S. Department of Education started requiring all states to use the same method of calculating graduation rates. Prior to that time, state calculations varied and are not necessarily comparable. Therefore, the authors of Building a Grad Nation used their own calculation method, in order to compare state progress nationwide.

In addition to the America’s Promise Alliance, the three other organizations sponsoring this year’s Building a Grad Nation report are the Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center. Funding for the report comes from AT&T and the Pearson Foundation, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with a leading textbook publisher.

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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  1. Pingback: Dropout Factories in the KC-Metropolitan Area « KC Education Enterprise - May 4, 2012

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