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The Obama administration has repeatedly identified the scandalously low graduation rates of certain public high schools, dubbed "dropout factories," as a key barrier to opportunity. The good news is that a handful of districts have measurably improved their graduation rates, and any district with the right leadership can do the same. The bad news is that many students who do manage to graduate from the lowest-performing high schools are shunted into colleges where the failure rates are even worse. Confronting these "college dropout factories" is essential to meeting the President's goal of regaining America's international lead in college graduation by 2020.
On September 21, Washington Monthly and Education Sector sponsored a two-part discussion on "getting to graduation." The first panel featured leading researchers, policymakers and foundation leaders discussing the findings of a Washington Monthly special report "Fighting the High School Dropout Crisis." The second panel focused on the recently-published Washington Monthly College Guide and included high-level congressional and administration officials along with the president of an innovative new university to discuss how the administration can keep the education pipeline flowing all the way to college graduation and beyond.
Moderated by Paul Glastris, editor of Washington Monthly, the first panel focused on low-performing high schools and what some communities are doing to respond. Panelists included: Richard Colvin, director of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media and guest editor for the "Dropout Crisis" special report; Michele Cahill, Carnegie Corporation of New York and formerly with NYC public schools; Carmel Martin, Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, and Paul Grogan, The Boston Foundation.
The second panel highlighted the Obama administration's bold agenda to regain the international lead in college graduation by 2020, which remains largely unfinished. Panelists explored where the administration should go next. Moderated by Doug Lederman, editor, Inside HigherEd, this panel will include: Eduardo M. Ochoa, assistant secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education; Bethany Little, chief education counsel, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Stephen Lehmkuhle, chancellor of the University of Minnesota-Rochester; and Kevin Carey, policy director, Education Sector. (Watch video clips from this panel below.)
Education Sector and Washington Monthly thank the Lumina Foundation for its support of this event.