The Pursuit of High Quality Schools: A Progress Report on Ohio's Quest to Graduate More Students Ready for College and Career

Ohio Education Matters
August 2009

This report by Ohio Education Matters (OEM) analyzes the Buckeye State’s efforts over the past five years to address its prodigious high school dropout rate. In late 2004, the graduation and dropout rates in Ohio reached such a point that the State Board of Education’s Task Force on Quality High Schools moved to action, proposing systemic changes to combat the problem. Five years later, however, there has been little progress and the problem has worsened: the state’s average graduation rate dropped from 86.62 percent in 2004 to 84.2 percent in 2008. 

OEM disaggregates dropout data to examine the drop-out problem more closely. The report examines high schools statewide, specifically the 30 with the lowest graduation rates. Most of the conclusions drawn from this data are obvious and have been long-known. For example, the finding that the heart of Ohio’s dropout problem lies in the urban core is not a new one. However, the report draws two hopeful conclusions.

First, that schools with the highest dropout rates made above average progress in graduating students. Additionally, a few of the worst case schools were able to make significant improvements. The report also examines current strategies to address dropout rates and finds that a number of programs, such as the Initiative for Increasing the Graduation Rate, hold promise or have already begun to yield positive results.

Overall this report is a comprehensive survey of Ohio’s progress toward improving graduation rates. It proposes several common-sense solutions, but nothing particularly new or bold. One thing the report does well is highlight the significant economic and social costs Ohio will pay in the future if it does not take significant action to successfully address this problem. Read it here.

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