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Grad Nation Summit Kicks Off in Washington Today

About 650 people from across the country are expected to gather in Washington for the first Building a Grad Nation Summit starting today through Wednesday. Headliners will include Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Republican Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-MD) and Robert McDonnell (R-VA), and Mayors Gregory Ballard (R-Indianapolis), Cory Booker (D-Newark) and Mick Cornett (R-Oklahoma City), along with other education and community leaders.

New data will be released tomorrow showing that the number of dropout factories (schools graduating 60 percent or less of students on time) continued to decline between 2008 and 2009. This updates the November 2010 report, Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, which revealed that while the U.S. graduation rate increased from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008, the number of "dropout factory" high schools fell by 13 percent—from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,746 in 2008. These low-performing schools account for about half of all high school dropouts each year.

The report released in November was authored by by Civic Enterprises and the Johns Hopkins University Everyone Graduates Center, which are sponsoring the Washington Summit along with The America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Grad Nation is a 10-year campaign launched last year to mobilize the nation to reverse the dropout crisis. Its goal is a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

Two other reports will be released at the Summit: one exploring the perspective of business and university leaders on skills needed in the workplace, and another on using data to improve public education.

A new dropout prevention public awareness campaign by State Farm Insurance will be unveiled this evening, featuring the voices of young people including NBA star LeBron James. AT&T will announce a $2 million gift to Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Data Quality Campaign and Civic Enterprises to support dropout prevention efforts,

Stay tuned for more news from the Summit.

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