President Obama expects all Americans to complete at least one year of postsecondary education, and a report released this week by Education Week highlights both the obstacles to attaining that goal and the hopeful signs that—at least in some states—success appears to be within reach.
"Diploma Count 2009" places the national graduation rate at about 70 percent for the class of 2006 and notes that this rate has increased nearly 3 percentage points since 1996. According to the report, New Jersey has the highest rate, 82.1 percent; Nevada has the lowest, 47.3 percent. But with about 30 percent of American students failing to graduate high school, and many other qualified students opting out of the college application process, the report states, Obama's goal can easily seem unrealistic.
Some sets of data highlighted in the report, however, paint a more positive picture of high school students' college readiness. Education Week found that about 2,200 school districts across the country exceeded expected graduation rates for the class of 2006 by at least 10 percent. The report also identifies states that are helping to prepare their students for college by installing statewide data systems that can track students' academic performance. Federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says he wants to see all states implement such systems.