My View: What you won't hear at high school graduation
Robert Balfanz and John Gomperts say U.S. graduation rates must increase.
June 6th, 2013
05:15 PM ET

My View: What you won't hear at high school graduation

Editor's note: Robert Balfanz is director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University's School of Education and John Gomperts is president and CEO of America's Promise Alliance.

By Robert Balfanz and John Gomperts, Special to CNN

Robert Balfanz(CNN) - Graduation season is in full swing, bringing with it a lot of discussion about life and opportunity. Inevitably there will be news stories about graduation ceremonies or a new YouTube video sensation focusing on commencement words of wisdom. While inspiring, those stories never give a full portrait of this rite of passage in America.

High school graduation—once the end of educational achievement for many—is now really just the starting line. The changing economy means that people who don't receive any post-secondary education will have access to only 40% of jobs in the next decade.

John GompertsThe beginning of this year's commencement season coincided with the 30th anniversary of one of the most important education reports the nation ever produced. "A Nation at Risk" warned that a mediocre education system put America's future in such serious jeopardy that had a foreign power imposed this poor performance on us, "we might well have viewed it as an act of war."

Yet three decades later, the reading and math skills of America's 15-year-olds still rank, respectively, as "average" and "below average" among developed nations. So, as you attend your next graduation ceremony, here are five things you won't hear but need to know.

Not everyone eventually gets a diploma.

In reality, fewer than 80% of students receive a regular high school diploma (not simply a GED) within four years. That number drops to less than 70% for African-American students and lower yet for students with disabilities and English language learners.

Read Balfanz and Gompert's full column

soundoff (2 Responses)
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  2. United Way of Stanislaus County

    Thank you for sharing this information.

    It is true: a high school diploma is the starting line. However, in order for students to go on and get a post-secondary education they first need a high school diploma. That is why we and other United Ways across America are focusing on increasing the high school graduation rate. If we can increase the high school graduation rate, we can keep America as a strong and vibrant community.

    Learn more about our Graduation Coach program and how we believe this program will increase the high school graduation rate in Stanislaus County here, http://www.uwaystan.org/activities/help-increase-high-school-graduation-rate-stanislaus-county

    June 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm |