Report: "Dropout Factories" Still a Problem Among Va. Schools

March 20, 2012

A new report says the number of Virginia high schools considered "dropout factories" remained constant between 2002 and 2010 and the number of students attending such schools grew during the period.

The report released Monday by the children's advocacy group America's Promise Alliance and other groups said the average four-year graduation rate increased from 76.7 percent to 78.4 percent from 2002-2009. That's compared to the national graduation rate of 75.5 percent in 2009, up 3.5 percentage points from 2002.

The research by Johns Hopkins University's Everyone Graduates Center was presented Monday at the Grad Nation summit in Washington. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell founded America's Promise Alliance.

Johns Hopkins researchers define dropout factories as schools that fail to graduate more than 60 percent of students on time.

There were 26 dropout factories in 2010, according to the report. It said 3,144 additional students attended dropout factories over the eight years, for a total of 36,104 students in such schools in 2010.

The report says states should aim for a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020. Wisconsin has reached that benchmark, the report says.

If Virginia were to have a 90 percent graduation rate, the additional graduates collectively would earn an estimated $121 million more in annual income and provide $27 million in increased annual state tax revenues, according to the report.

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