We have seen the narrative too many times. Goals are set, initiatives are launched, and deadlines come and go without much progress. Problems are thought to be chronically unfixable and inertia sets in. Not this time.

After decades of stagnation, data released by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the high school graduation rate is at a record high of 83.2 percent in 2015, up from 79 percent in 2011 under a consistent, four-year measure all states used for the first time and up from about 71 percent at the start of the century under the best available estimate. These increases mean that two million more students have graduated, rather than leaving high school, since 2000 with better opportunities to go on to college, gainful employment, and engage in their communities.

There is much to celebrate. Nearly every state made progress over the last four years, and the District of Columbia, which has had among the lowest graduation rates in the nation, catapulted more than seven percentage points in the last year. Twenty-eight states have graduation rates above the national average, Iowa leads the nation by crossing the 90 percent threshold, and seven other states are within just two percentage points of our national goal.

Read the entire op-ed on The Huffington Post.

About the Author

Nicole Anderson and John Bridgeland

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As AVP of Social Innovation and President of the AT&T Foundation, Nicole Anderson oversees AT&T’s philanthropic programs, including AT&T Aspire – a $350 million commitment to drive innovation in education to ensure all students succeed in school and beyond. She’s also implemented an award winning employee activation initiative and held management positions in AT&T’s call centers and network garages.

John Bridgeland is CEO of Civic, a public policy development firm. He is also Vice-Chair of the Service Year Alliance. His work on the high school dropout crisis helped bring national attention to the issue, with the TIME cover story “Dropout Nation” and two Oprah Winfrey shows prompted by his report, "The Silent Epidemic." Previously, Bridgeland served as Assistant to the President of the United States and the first Director of the USA Freedom Corps.

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