Diplomas Count: Ready for What? Preparing Students for College, Careers, and Life After High School

Editorial Projects in Education
June 2007

The second iteration of the now-annual Diplomas Count report includes updated graduation data and an in-depth discussion of how states are tackling the tricky issue of "work and college readiness." Nationwide, the average graduation rate, which EPE calculates based on its own "Cumulative Promotion Index," has hardly budged since last year; it still hovers around 70 percent. The numbers for black and Hispanic males also remain depressingly low: 46 percent and 52 percent, respectively. This year's report also breaks down the nation's workforce into five income "zones" and analyzes each zone's average level of education. This produces sobering findings such as: "while 15.7 percent of the labor force in the District of Columbia occupies Job Zone 5--in which more than nine in 10 workers have at least some college and more than three quarters have a bachelor's degree--most of those jobs are inaccessible to Washington's public school students, more than four in 10 of whom fail to earn a high school diploma within four years." The report also features some solid commentary and unique data on how states are preparing their students for college and work. EPE concludes that only 11 states have adequately defined "college readiness" and 21 "work readiness," based on measures such as course requirements and curricular standards. (Compare this with a recent report from Achieve, which found that 13 states "require students to complete a college- and work-ready curriculum.") On the bright side, more than a dozen states claim to be developing such definitions. Finally, like last year's report, Diplomas Count 2007 features an interactive map that displays graduation rates in a colorful, easily digestible format, right down to the level of individual schools. Find all this and more here.

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