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Action by Senate Appropriations Committee Means New Funding for the Nation’s Dropout Factories

Press Release:

Action by Senate Appropriations Committee Means New Funding for the Nation’s Dropout Factories

Alliance President Praises Effort to Target Funding at the Nation’s Lowest-Performing High Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee included $625 million for the School Improvement Grants program in its version of the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education appropriations bill. The committee also directed states to spend at least 40 percent of these funds on improvement activities in middle and high schools, primarily due to concern that the current program is not serving enough of the nation’s lowest-performing high schools, including the approximately 2,000 “dropout factories” where 60 percent or fewer of high school freshmen progress to senior year on time. In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement.

“When emergency medical personnel arrive at an accident scene, they immediately deliver treatment to the most severely injured. “Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee took  historic action to perform educational triage on some of the lowest-performing middle and high schools and the students they serve.

“The major funding stream for assisting the lowest-performing K–12 schools is the School Improvement Grants program or SIG. As presently configured, SIG is not ‘SIGnificant’ enough for the nation’s secondary schools, for example, SIG funds are unlikely to reach even half of the nation’s two thousand dropout factories.

“If the nation is to make a significant dent in its distressingly high dropout rate, it must target dropout factories, which account for half of the nation’s dropouts even though they only make up about 10 percent of the nation’s high schools. The Senate Appropriations Committee took a critical first step yesterday by directing 40 percent of School Improvement Grant program funding to be used to turn around the nation’s lowest-performing secondary schools.

“Literally millions of middle and high school students will have access to many more opportunities for success thanks to the leadership of Senators Tom Harkin, Jeff Bingaman, and Patty Murray, who were instrumental in this effort and have led the charge to reform the nation’s high schools and help the nation’s students graduate from high school, prepared for college and career.”

To find out how many of the lowest-performing high schools are in your state, download the Alliance’s policy brief, Prioritizing the Nation’s Lowest-Performing High Schools, here.


The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit


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