Resources by Topic
High School Graduation
This page features all PPN content on the topic of high school graduation and dropout prevention, including program summaries, issue briefs, and additional resources and tools that provide evidence-based information on what works for children and families.
Programs that Work
These programs are listed under the indicator for students graduating from high school.
Proven / Promising Programs
Other Reviewed Programs
PPN Issue Brief
Promising Practices for Promoting High School Graduation
High school graduation is widely valued because it usually leads to higher earnings for individuals, and also because communities with more-educated citizens have greater productivity and economic growth. There is evidence that graduating high school provides an additional boost to earnings above and beyond the earnings of individuals with the same number of years of schooling but no diploma. This summary explains the importance of high school graduation and describes research-based approaches to promoting high school graduation.
The additional resources found on this page come from other credible websites that PPN has reviewed for quality and relevance, including links to databases, fact sheets, screening tools, seminal reports, and a variety of other resources that are among the best research-based materials available on children and families.
Fact Sheets and Briefs
Progress Toward Increasing National and State Graduation Rates
This Data Brief examines the progress made toward raising high school graduation rates between 2002 and 2006, the first period for which comparable data are available across all states. Nationwide, the graduation rate during this period remained at a relatively steady 74%. However, a closer look at the state-level data reveals much more variation in the rates, with some states experiencing decreases in graduation rates during the period, while others had increases. The brief includes specific examples from states that had shown improvement in their graduation rates and discusses ways that other organizations and policymakers are playing a role in increasing the number of students who graduate from high school.
Course Credit Accrual and Dropping Out of High School, by Student Characteristics
— Feb. 2009
To examine the potential relationship between students' annual accrual of academic credits and the timing of when students drop out of high school, this report presents data from a nationally representative sample of 10th-graders in public and private schools in the spring of 2002.
Reports and Other Publications
School Dropouts: Prevention Considerations, Interventions, and Challenges
— Jan. 2004
This article discusses potential contributors to students dropping out of high school and proposes five critical issues to consider when working to prevent dropouts or promoting high school completion, including considering dropping out as a process rather than a sudden event and the importance of having empirical evidence when evaluating the quality of prevention interventions. Characteristics of interventions are discussed as well as the major challenges that face prevention efforts.
The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts
— Mar. 2006
Unique among many of the reports addressing high school dropout, this report presents the issue from students' perspectives. The results of a survey and series of focus groups with youth who identified themselves as high school dropouts provide an interesting view of why students drop out of high school and what might have helped them graduate.
On the Front Lines of Schools
— June 2009
To get a view from the "front lines" of schools in the United States, this report presents findings of a nationwide survey and series of focus groups with teachers and principals to gather their views on why students drop out and what might be done to promote higher rates of school completion. The study found a disconnect between educators' perceptions of how many students graduated each year and the actual reported graduation rate. Challenges and frustrations over the way graduation data are collected and reported are discussed along with suggestions for ways to improve the quality and accuracy of statistics. Finally, the report puts forth ideas for how to improve rates of high school graduation, including improved collaboration between teachers, parents, and students; developing early warning systems; and intervening in earlier grades through curriculum changes and school redesign.
Implementing Graduation Counts: State Progress to Date
— Dec. 2010
This report from the National Governors Association summarizes states' progress as of December 2010 in implementing the main features of the Graduation Counts Compact of the National Governors Association, which the governors of all 50 states signed in 2005. The Compact included four main components:
- Use a common, four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate formula;
- Build state data collection and reporting capacity;
- Develop additional student outcome indicators; and
- Report annually on progress toward meeting these commitments.
As of the end of 2010, 49 states reported completing the development of data systems needed to implement the Compact, and 48 states will use the Compact to report graduation rates for the cohort graduating in 2011.
Graduation Counts: A Report of the National Governors Association Task Force on State High School Graduation Data
This 2005 report from the National Governors Association presents five recommendations from their Task Force on State High School Graduation Data about how states can develop high-quality, comparable indicators in the areas of graduation rates and other student outcomes, how to develop the support for such measurement and system, and how to build the necessary data systems and capacity for reporting information.
Raise the Age, Lower the Dropout Rate? Considerations for Policymakers
— Spring 2009
This policy brief describes the trend in states to raise the age at which students are required to stay in school to age 18, as one strategy being used to reduce the number of students who drop out of high school. Research findings from studies examining the effectiveness of this strategy are presented along with arguments in favor of and in opposition to this policy.
The Progress of Education Reform 2007: Dropout Prevention
— July 2007
This research brief summarizes the findings from five studies that address different predictors of school dropout, characteristics of schools found to be linked to higher graduation rates, cost-benefit analyses of initiatives found to improve graduation rates, and a synthesis of research on the importance of state data systems in supporting dropout prevention efforts. Policy implications of these findings are also discussed.
Every Student Counts: The Case for Graduation Rate Accountability
— July 2008
This policy brief discusses problems with the current methods of measuring graduation rates and concerns about the provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) regarding schools' accountability for improving graduation rates. The brief makes four recommendations to policymakers, including implementing consistent and accurate ways of measuring graduation rates; and requiring achievable, uniform annual graduation rate growth requirements as part of NCLB's Adequate Yearly Progress provision to ensure a minimum increase in graduation rates.
Late High School Dropouts: Characteristics, Experiences, and Changes Across Cohorts
— June 2009
This descriptive analysis report presents characteristics and experiences of a specific group of students who drop out of high school — those who drop out after reaching tenth grade. Along with describing demographic characteristics of late high school dropouts, teachers' expectations of the students and the level of academic achievement they reach are presented. The report also presents results from a survey of high school dropouts that provide interesting data on the reasons students give for dropping out of high school.
Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2006
— Sep. 2008
This report provides a comprehensive statistical picture of high school dropout and completion rates for the United States in 2006. Additionally, it presents trend data for 1972-2006 and provides information on the characteristics of high school dropouts and high school completers in 2006.
The Effects of Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions on Dropout for Youth with Disabilities
— June 2005
This report synthesizes research from 16 studies that examined interventions focusing on preventing youth with disabilities from dropping out of school. The results of the synthesis provides support for the use of cognitive-behavioral interventions across different types of educational settings, and across gender, age, and type of disability. The practice implications of these findings are also discussed in the report.
Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap — Educational and Economic Conditions in America's Largest Cities
— Apr. 2009
In a follow-up to the 2008 Cities in Crisis report, this report looks specifically at graduation rates in America's largest metropolitan areas in the context of the U.S. economy. The impact of schooling on employment, income, and poverty is a primary focus of the report along with the economic and societal consequences linked to low high school graduation rates. The information presented makes a strong argument for improving the number of youth who graduate high school.
National High School Center — Topic Area: High School Graduation
This online resource provides visitors access to a variety of information on graduation requirements across the U.S., graduation rates, and "on-track" graduation indicators.
Dropouts, Completers and Graduation Rate Reports
This page from the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) provides visitors access to multiple statistics reports on high school graduation rates, beginning with data from 1993.
Databases and Tools
Common Core of Data Program
The National Center for Education Statistics operates the Common Core of Data program, which is a comprehensive, annual, national statistical database of all public elementary and secondary schools and school districts. One goal of the database is to provide access to data that are comparable across all states. The program's website allows visitors to use interactive tools to create reports using data from the database.
Grad Nation: A Guidebook to Help Communities Tackle the Dropout Crisis
— Feb. 2009
This Guidebook seeks to provide a roadmap for communities wishing to increase the number of their youth who graduate from high school. The report presents recent relevant research, discusses best practices, and instructs communities in the use of tools they can employ to prevent students from dropping out of school.
— Sep. 2008
This Practice Guide from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) seeks to help state policymakers and school- and district-level administrators implement effective school dropout prevention interventions. The report presents multiple recommendations for how to prevent students from dropping out. At the core of the recommendations are a set of dropout prevention strategies that have been evaluated using methods that meet the What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards and which have been found to have a positive impact on school achievement outcomes. The strength of the evidence for each strategy is provided within the report as well as a description of the strategy.