Anne OBrien Deputy Director of the Learning First Alliance
Our nation is on the right track when it comes to high school graduation. The graduation rate is the highest it has ever been (75.5% for the class of 2009), and between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of dropouts among 16- to 24-year-olds declined from 12.1% to 7.4%. While there are still racial and socioeconomic gaps in these areas, improvement is happening across the board.
But we have to do better. In addition to what we know about the personal and societal benefits to high school graduation (higher wage for individuals and lower crime rates for communities among them), as we look towards our nation’s economic future, it is projected that in 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education. Just 10 percent of jobs will be available to high school dropouts (compared to 32% in 1973). At our current rate of improvement, the nation’s graduation rate will be closer to 80 percent than 90 percent in 2020, two years after 90 percent of jobs will require high school graduation.