BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is among the states that saw the strongest gains in high school graduation rates over a recent seven-year period, and fewer Bay State students were attending schools with chronically low graduation rates, according to a new national report.
The graduation rate for the Class of 2009 in Massachusetts was 83.3 percent, up from 77.6 in 2002, according to the report.
Nationally, the graduation rate was 75.5 percent, compared to the 2002 rate of 72.6 percent.
Massachusetts was among 12 states, along with Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, that showed the most progress in improving their graduation rates during the period, according to the report.
Massachusetts also had 18 so-called dropout factories in 2010, down from 24 in 2002, according to the report, with nearly 11,000 fewer students attending such schools. The report defines a dropout factory as a high school that graduates 60 percent or less of its students.
The state's success moves it closer to the Building a Grad Nation's goal of achieving a 90 percent graduation rate in each state by 2020 and eliminating dropout factories by 2016.
"With a 90 percent graduation rate, the additional graduates could deliver an estimated $57 million in increased annual earnings, $18 million in increased annual state tax revenues, and increase in the Gross State Product of $73 million," the report stated.
The Legislature's Education Committee recently recommended passage of a bill that would prohibit Massachusetts students from dropping out of school before age 18, instead of 16 as the law now stands. The measure also calls for the hiring of graduation "coaches" to support students who are considered most at risk of not finishing school.
Since 2009, the state has adopted a new methodology required by the U.S. Department of Education for calculating its graduation rate. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reported a four-year graduation rate of 83.4 percent for the Class of 2011, up from 82.1 percent the previous year.
The report will be presented Monday in Washington at the Building a Grad Nation summit primarily sponsored by America's Promise Alliance, a children's advocacy organization founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. It was authored by John Bridgeland and Mary Bruce of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm focused on social change, and Robert Balfanz and Joanna Fox of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.