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Increase High School Completion

Strategies Success Stories

What Can Policymakers Do?

Establish graduation as the expectation for all students. Increasing high school graduation begins with high expectations for all students and broad recognition that the mission of America’s secondary education system must change. Policymakers, educators, parents and students alike must recognize the value of a high school diploma and demand changes that will ensure that all students are college- and career-ready .

Support student success from preschool to adulthood. Dropout prevention begins with an investment in early learning and continues with high quality instruction, continuous support and effective interventions from preschool through high school. Research shows the achievement gap starts well before kindergarten. A recent national call to action to increase college completion rates adopted a 10-point agenda for improving America’s education, with recommendations spanning a student’s continuum of learning from pre-school to graduate school (the P-20 continuum).

Target interventions to high-need students and schools. In the new economy, individuals who fail to graduate from high school face bleak futures. With strong evidence for clear early warning indicators, states, districts and schools now have the opportunity to target interventions with greater precision to the students and schools with the greatest need. However, even with increased attention to dropout prevention, some students will still fall through the cracks. Dropout prevention efforts are still needed, and they must be flexible, link to college and career training and offer strong support services to participants.


Defining College and Career Readiness.  The National Governors Association’s Common Core Standards Initiative defines a college- and career-ready student as “an individual that is ready to succeed in entry-level, credit bearing, academic college courses and in workforce training programs.”


Pay Attention to Vulnerable Populations. A drop out prevention approach should include youth transitioning  out of foster care, who have high drop out rates.


Cradle to career efforts help to prepare young people for a successful future by prioritizing education from early childhood until well after secondary school. Model legislation from the Promise Neighborhood's Institute can help support state and local cradel to career efforts.