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U.S. dropout picture grim, report says

October 24, 2008|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Your child is less likely to graduate from high school than you were, and most states are doing little to hold schools accountable, according to a study by a children's advocacy group.

More than half the states have graduation targets that don't make schools get better, the Education Trust says in a report released Thursday in Washington.

One in 4 kids is dropping out of school, a rate that hasn't budged for at least five years. Among minorities, more than 1 in 3 drop out.

"The U.S. is stagnating while other industrialized countries are surpassing us," said Anna Habash, author of the report by Education Trust, which advocates on behalf of minority and poor children. "And that is going to have a dramatic impact on our ability to compete."

The U.S. is the only industrialized country where youths are less likely than their parents to earn a diploma, the report says, citing data compiled by the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

High schools are required to meet graduation targets every year as part of the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind Act. But those targets are set by states, and most states allow schools to graduate low percentages of students by saying that any progress, or even the status quo, is acceptable.

The U.S. was slow to realize the crisis. For years, researchers reported dropouts as those who quit in 12th grade, failing to count those who left earlier.

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