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America’s Promise

The America’s Promise Alliance includes more that 150 partner organizations representing business, education, government, and community. In 2008, the Alliance announced that it will support Dropout Prevention Summits in all 50 states, as well as inviting 55 mayors to host city-focused summits, with the intention of increasing awareness, encouraging public–private collaboration, and facilitating action in states and communities that want to improve their graduation rates. These summits will be community based to encourage local ownership over the initiative. America’s Promise has created Steps to Planning a High School Prevention Leadership Summit to assist communities with their planning efforts.

The United States graduates only about 70% of students who begin high school and only about 52% in the 50 largest cities.[1] In Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis, fewer than 35% of students graduate with a diploma.[2] Students from the poorest quintile are six times more likely to drop out than students from higher income families, and African American and Hispanic students are less likely than their white peers to graduate.[3] Students who graduate from high school live longer and earn more than dropouts; they are also less likely to be teen parents, commit crime, or rely on government assistance like food stamps.[4]

Related Research Base

Dropout prevention remains the most effective method of raising graduation rates. Researchers have identified several signifiers which indicate students at risk of dropping out: poor grades in core subjects, low attendance, failure to be promoted to the next grade, and disengagement in the classroom. Schools that are able to track and address these issues among students by collecting longitudinal, student-level data and by intervening early have the best chances of keeping students in school.[5]


[1] Swanson, C. B. (2008). Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation. Washington, DC: Editorial Projects in Education.

[2] Swanson, C. B. (2008). Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation. Washington, DC: Editorial Projects in Education.

[3] Monrad, M. (2007). High School Dropout: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet. Washington, DC: National High School Center.

[4] Alliance for Excellent Education. (2007). The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools. Washington, DC: Author.

[5] Kennelly, L., & Monrad, M. (2007). Approaches to Dropout Prevention: Heeding Early Warning Signs with Appropriate Interventions. Washington, DC: The National High School Center.