When it comes to education, there’s no better feeling than knowing your efforts make a difference in young peoples’ lives. That’s the elation that many of us at AT&T feel after reading the fifth annual update of Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic.
According to the report, America’s high school graduation rate has risen above 80 percent for the first time. That translates to 1.7 million more students graduating from high school over the last decade, rather than dropping out. Moreover, during the past two years, the pace of increase since 2006 puts America on track to achieve its 2020 goal of a 90 percent graduation rate.
For AT&T, the decision to support the vital effort to improve graduation rates reflects our belief that learning is better when we are all working together to improve it.
AT&T was lead sponsor for this report and the remarkable education summit that coincided with the report’s release. At that summit, nearly 1,000 educators, behavioral experts and high school leaders gathered to discuss strategies for what the report called a “Civic Marshall Plan” to continue this graduation success. The results were both dynamic and inspirational.
Personally as a Latina executive, one of the most important aspects of the new report is the surge in graduation rates among minority students. Since 2006, the high school graduation rates for Latinos and African Americans have spiked 15 and 9 percentage points respectively, far outpacing the overall national improvement. These gains drove our national progress.
For AT&T, the decision to support the vital effort to improve graduation rates reflects our belief that learning is better when we are all working together to improve it. This belief is also what drives similar education efforts, especially AT&T Aspire, our $350 million commitment to promote college and workforce readiness.
Achieving this great national goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020 will require time and resources. But it’s important to remember that these two alone are not always sufficient. “The barriers that block the path to graduation and preparedness go beyond the classroom,” the report introduction notes. Issues such as healthcare, hunger, bullying and economic instability all contribute to students failing to fulfill their potential.
Overall, the new GradNation report is a heartening affirmation that America is on the right track in reducing the dropout rate. The finish line is in sight and we’re in the lead. But it’s going to take commitment from everyone to win this race and to ensure that when we cross the finish line, more students not only graduate high school, but are also well prepared for college, work and life.