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Fewer US schools qualify as 'dropout factories'

'Dropout factories,' schools that graduate 60 percent or less of their students, fell to 1,634 in 2009, down from 2,007 in 2002, says a new report. Attention on the dropout problem has led to improvement, analysts say.

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A report released Tuesday has good news for those working at improving the graduation rate in America's schools. The number of 'dropout factory' high schools – those graduating 60 percent or less of their students – is dropping.

Photo Illustration: Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/Newscom

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The number of “dropout factories” is dropping.

A report released Tuesday has good news for those working at improving the graduation rate in America's schools – an effort that has received significant attention only for the past decade or so.

The number of “dropout factory” high schools – those graduating 60 percent or less of their students – was 1,634 in 2009, according to the report, released by America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center. This is down from 1,746 in 2008, and from a high of 2,007 in 2002.

“There are reasons for optimism,” says John Bridgeland, chief executive officer of Civic Enterprises, noting that the attention paid to the dropout problem has led states to agree to use a single calculation of graduation rates starting this fall, and that a number of districts and states are seeing their efforts pay off with big improvements. “I think what’s different here is that we have a concrete plan of action,” he says.

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