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THE CHALLENGE: Six Million Students are in Danger of Being “Left Behind”

As the nation’s schoolchildren head back to school and school districts begin to implement the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, one thing is very clear-six million students in our nation’s middle schools and high schools are in serious danger of being left behind. These young people live in our cities, suburbs, and rural areas, and reflect all income levels.

While great attention has been paid to increasing early childhood education opportunities and reaching the national goal of making sure every child can read by third grade, little has been done to confront the real and growing problem: Hundreds of thousands of high school students can barely read on the eve of their high school graduation. The problem begins earlier, in our nation’s middle schools. Less than 75 percent of all eighth graders graduate from high school in five years, and, in urban schools, these rates dip below 50 percent.

The good news is that we know how to educate low-performing adolescents to high standards, and many schools are doing so. These schools are raising the achievement levels and increasing the options available to students who would otherwise drop out or merely “get by.”

We know that there is no single strategy for increasing student achievement. Successful secondary schools take a multi-pronged approach to educate and support all students. Effective, research-based models share a set of common components for educating at-risk students to high standards. Working in partnership with states and local school districts, the federal government can play a significant role in ensuring that these essential components are in place in every middle school and high school in the country.

Graduation Rate by District and Race

District
Graduation Rate
African-American Graduation Rate
Latino Graduation Rate
White Graduation Rate
Ranking of District by 1993 Population
Boston
82%
85%
68%
87%
50
Cleveland City
28%
29%
26%
23%
38
Dade County (Miami)
57 %
55%
55%
70%
4
Denver County
53%
55%
36%
79%
53
Houston
52%
55%
36%
79%
53
Indianapolis
39%
44%
INS
NA
85%
Los Angeles Unified
56%
56%
48%
81%
2
New York City
55%
42%
45%
80%
1

INS=Insufficient student count for calculating graduation rate; NA=Data not available
Source: Graduation Rates in the United States, Jay P. Greene, November 2001, revised April 2002.
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/cr_baeo.pdf

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.