Over the past decade, SREB state policy-makers have focused on actions to reduce dropout rates and increase high school graduation rates. Some policymakers have suggested that raising their state’s compulsory attendance age (often called the dropout age) to require students to stay in school until age 17 or 18 is an important step.
The 2002 Challenge to Lead Goals for Education called for SREB states to raise the percentages of all groups of students graduating from high school to above the national average, as part of the region’s mission “to lead the nation in educational progress.” Detailed in this SREB Policy on Point report, the gains made by the region as a whole and by individual states since that time have been remarkable. Almost every SREB state increased its high school graduation rate from 1999 to 2009, and more than half outpaced the nation’s gains.
For nearly a decade, states have had flexibility in collecting and reporting graduation rate data for state and federal accountability purposes. But in 2008, the U.S. Department of Education issued new guidelines that require all states to report a new rate – the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate – beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.
The majority of states nationwide and all 16 SREB states now link eligibility for a driver’s license to school attendance (and in some cases to academic performance) through state laws that SREB has labeled Attend ‘ Drive laws.