- Just 1,329 U.S. high schools — representing 10% of all traditional high schools enrolling at least 300 students — have low graduation rates or weak rates of student promotion from freshman to senior over four years, according to the "Great American High School," released Thursday by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University.
- Conducted in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, the research finds that these schools are largely located in high-poverty districts, half of the schools serve a 90% minority population, around 75% are majority minority, 76% are district-run and 24% are charters.
- Additionally, the data shows that 800 high schools serve 50% of off-track African-American and Hispanic students.
This latest report from the organizations behind the GradNation campaign reflects a broader uncomfortable truth that many districts and schools are confronted with every day: The problems hindering students from graduation in many of these locations begin well beyond the walls of the school building.
Poverty's impact on educational achievement cannot be understated. Students from low-income families are more likely to face food insecurity, lack access to affordable healthcare, and even be homeless. And students who are hungry, frequently ill, or wondering where they might sleep that evening are less likely to be able to concentrate and perform well in school.
Of course, these are bigger problems than administrators can confront alone. Partnering with local organizations and businesses can help band-aid these needs within communities, but broader advocacy — and grass-roots organizing that brings parents and community leaders into those efforts — must also be considered to encourage policymakers to address these root causes rather than continuing to patch the symptoms.