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New Report: The Steps States Can Take to Improve Graduation Rate

New Report: The Steps States Can Take to Improve Graduation Rate

WASHINGTON (November 13, 2015) – America’s graduation rate is at a record high, thanks in part to the implementation of a high-quality, comparable cohort graduation rate measure. But state and local leaders can do more with graduation rate data to reach the remaining one in five students who do not graduate.

In a new policy brief released today, the Data Quality Campaign and the Chalkboard Project share recommendations focused on improving the quality and comparability of graduation data in order to support students on their journey to graduation.

The recommendations are based on data analysis and interviews with leaders across nine states to determine how these states have maintained consistently high graduation rates or have seen substantial growth over the last few years. The policy brief will help states better understand the areas of improvement needed to prevent students from falling through the cracks.

Sealing the Cracks: Using Graduation Data, Policy, and Practice to Keep All Kids on Track provides recommendations for policymakers in three categories:

  • Motivate Action through Leadership
    • State leaders at the highest levels must set improved graduation rates as a priority.
    • State education agencies should create internal structures and capacity to support increased graduation rates.
    • States must clearly report graduation rates as part of a high-quality state report card.
  • Support Data Use at the Local Level
    • Provide districts information about which students are included in their cohort.
    • Use on-track or early warning data systems to identify students who are at risk of not graduating.
    • Prioritize policies and practices to support educator and administrator data literacy.
  • Prioritize Data Quality and Comparability
    • Train school and district staff on the proper collection and use of student data to improve quality.
    • Include as many students as possible in ninth-grade cohorts.
    • Regularly and systematically audit school and district data collections and provide support as needed.

“State leaders should use these recommendations, based on lessons learned from high-performing states, to their own policies and practices to ensure every student graduates,” said Paige Kowalski, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign.

“Oregon’s graduation rates are unacceptable.  We expect our state education leaders to take action with an aggressive plan to help districts improve the number of students who graduate from our schools. Every child in Oregon is a potential graduate: it’s our duty to make that goal a reality,” said Sue Hildick, President of Chalkboard Project.



For Data Quality Campaign: Dakarai Aarons, 202-393-7192,

For Chalkboard Project: Tonia Holowetzki, 503-542-4325,

About the Data Quality Campaign:

The Data Quality Campaign is a national, nonprofit organization leading the effort to bring every part of the education community together to empower educators, parents, and policymakers with quality information to make decisions that ensure students achieve their best. For more information, go to and follow us on Twitter @EdDataCampaign.

About Chalkboard Project:

Chalkboard Project is an independent education reform organization dedicated to making Oregon’s K-12 public schools among the best in the country. We are funded by a consortium of Oregon’s leading philanthropic foundations with a central belief that expert research is essential to identifying policies and practices that improve outcomes for students. Launched in 2004, Chalkboard is the first initiative of Foundations for a Better Oregon (FBO). FBO founding foundations are: Meyer Memorial Trust, The Oregon Community Foundation, The Collins Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, JELD-WEN Foundation, and The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation  @ChalkTalkers