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GRADUATION PROMISE ACT INTRODUCED IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: New Legislation Would Provide $2.5 Billion for Lowest- Performing High Schools

“The GPA meets a critical need at a critical time,” says Bob Wise

On June 28, Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) introduced new legislation that would make $2.5 billion in federal funds available for use in transforming the nation’s lowest performing high schools into effective centers of teaching and learning. Representatives Joe Baca (D-CA), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Danny Davis (D-IL), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Barbara Lee (DCA), John Lewis (D-GA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), John Salazar (D7 CO), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), José Serrano (D-NY), Hilda Solis (DCA), andNydia Velázquez (D-NY) joined him as original cosponsors.

Called the Graduation Promise Act (GPA), the bill would leverage statewide systems of high school improvement, support the development of effective school models for struggling students and dropouts, and reform state policies to remove barriers to high school reform.

The largest component of the GPA is a High School Improvement and Dropout Reduction Fund that would target the nation’s lowest-performing high schools—those with graduation rates of less than 60 percent. Nationwide, there are over 2,000 of these “dropout factories,” and they account for nearly half of the nation’s dropouts.

The bill would create a $60 million grant program for the development, implementation, and replication of highly effective secondary school models for struggling students and dropouts. These models would serve a variety of struggling students, including those who are significantly older than others in the same grade and/or who lack the credits needed to progress toward an ontime graduation; late-entrant English language learners; and those who have already dropped out of school.

The third component of the bill is a $40 million grant program that would encourage states to implement policy changes necessary to increase student achievement and graduation rates in every high school. Some changes could include additional high school options, such as small schools and early college high schools.

“The GPA meets a critical need at a critical time,” says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “The nation’s economic future depends of the success of today’s high school students. All of our schools must receive the support they need to educate their students to the highest level possible. Congress is urged to pass this important legislation to make sure every student graduates from high school prepared to succeed in the twenty-first century.”

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate on April 23 by Senators Jeff Bingaman (DNM), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).

More information on the GPA, as well as other high school legislation currently pending before Congress, is available at

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.