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About Our Areas of Work
We organize our work into three areas to help low-income youth & adults:

Graduating America: Meeting the Challenge of Low Graduation-Rate High Schools

Robert Balfanz, Cheryl Almeida, Adria Steinberg, Janet Santos & Joanna Hornig Fox



The federal government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to stimulate significant progress in solving the nation's graduation crisis, according to this report from JFF and the Everyone Graduates Center. While high schools with low graduation rates exist in every state and many communities across the country, they are concentrated in a subset of 17 states that produce approximately 70 percent of the nation's dropouts. Data from these states are used to develop new analytic tools for examining the characteristics of schools, districts, and states that make certain approaches more likely to succeed in certain places.

Immediate federal action would make a significant difference in efforts to help hundreds of thousands more high school students earn a diploma and prepare for postsecondary education. The report's authors make the following recommendations to the federal government:

  • Require states seeking ARRA Race to the Top funding to use analytic data on graduation rates and low graduation-rate high schools as part of their plans for turning around failing schools;
  • Build the capacity of states, districts, and schools to implement appropriate high school reform strategies;
  • Designate additional federal innovation funding for development and replication of effective school designs to use in transforming or replacing low graduation-rate high schools; and
  • Target federal financing to high schools, districts, and states with the most pressing dropout problems.

The growing knowledge base of promising strategies, combined with a more concerted effort to match reforms to the circumstances where they are most likely to succeed, can go a long way in helping the nation reach the President's goal of once again being first in the world in the percentage of our young people who complete high school and earn a postsecondary credential as well.