Graduation rates inching up for many states

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There’s good news and, well, news of a ways to go.

On Monday, a report by several educational organizations showed that America’s high school graduation rate is increasing. The rate was 72 percent in 2002; by 2009, it had increased to 75 percent.

And that’s good news. It shows much needed improvement in helping our teenagers to earn a high school diploma. And while some states like Tennessee and New York posted double-digit increases since 2002, Alabama earned note as well as one of the states with major gains in graduation rates.

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But we still have a long way to go. The America’s Promise Alliance, which commissioned the report through the Everybody Graduates Center, has set some lofty goals for our country: a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020 and a 60 percent college graduation rate by the same year (nearly double the existing rate).

While this report is encouraging – and the goal is admirable – the reality of moving the needle from 65 percent in 2009 to 90 percent in 2020 for the state of Alabama won’t be easy. In fact, there’s plenty of opportunity for disconnect and discouragement along the way.

The take away here is the need – the real need – for Alabama and the nation to identify the growing problem of illiteracy and lack of education and to address it. High school graduation rates are just part of the solution; but they are measurable, trackable and in some ways moveable.

It’s a place to start and one that bears continued focus and funding.