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'Graduation Promise Act' Introduced in Senate

Your duly elected representatives are forging ahead to conquer the graduation-rate problem.

Yesterday, a passel of senators introduced the "Graduation Promise Act," which would authorize $3 billion to combat the dropout problem. About $2.4 billion would create a fund to help states develop systemic, differentiated ways of bolstering struggling high schools. About $60 million would be available in competitive grants to expand the supply of secondary school models that would best help students at high risk of dropping out, or those who have already dropped out.

(Read more about the "Graduation Promise Act" on the Alliance for Excellent Education's Web site, including the fact that it circulated in 2007, too. It was introduced, and some of its ideas were incorporated into an NCLB discussion draft, but it was never voted on as stand-alone legislation.)

Leaders of five national organizations issued a statement supporting passage of the bill, including the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, which generated the groundbreaking research identifying "dropout factories." Leaders of those groups testified in support of the measure earlier this spring before the House education committee, but the bill hasn't been introduced in that chamber yet.

By way of coincidence, perhaps, the National Center for Education Statistics chose the same day to release its most recent report on dropout and graduation-rate data. It estimated that as of 2006, 73.2 percent of 9th graders at public high schools were earning diplomas in four years.

In a statement released in response to the NCES report, Ed Secretary Arne Duncan said that President Obama's education agenda will address the issue, noting that the administration has requested $50 million in the fiscal 2010 budget for dropout prevention, and has provided $3.5 billion in stimulus funding for turning around the lowest-performing schools, including the 2,000-odd "dropout factories."

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