American Graduate Among Key Initiatives Supporting National Graduation Gains

June 6, 2018

Building a Grad Nation

Driven by the hard work of millions of students, parents, educators and community leaders and aided by public and private initiatives across the country, the high school graduation rate reached a record 84.1 percent, according to the 2018 Building a Grad Nation report from Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. The annual update cites public media’s long-term commitment to improving youth outcomes through education and career readiness.

The report tracks progress toward a national goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020. While the national on-time graduation rate continues to increase, and some states and districts are showing remarkable progress, key student subgroups are lagging significantly behind. The 2018 report examines three key areas: high school data trends across the country, the state of high school graduation rates for the largest historically underserved student subgroups and the lowest performing high schools and the connection between high school and postsecondary pathways.

“Thanks to the hard work taking place inside classrooms, living rooms, and boardrooms across the country, the nation continues to see steady growth of high school graduation rates on the state level, with most of those increases being driven by the increasing education attainment of Black and Hispanic students,” said John Bridgeland, president & CEO, Civic Enterprises. “We have work to do to ensure every student receives a quality education that prepares them for college, work, and civic engagement.”

Earlier this year, CPB launched the latest phase of public media’s American Graduate initiative to strengthen the school to work pipeline. Stations across the country are partnering with businesses, high schools, post-secondary programs, government entities and workforce development organizations to advance education and career readiness and to examine workforce challenges and opportunities in local communities.

Examples of public media stations connecting education and jobs include KUEN’s partnership with an online portal called “UtahFutures” and PBS Charlotte’s video series featuring local industries that need more skilled workers. Through American Graduate, stations have also inspired citizens to get involved and become American Graduate Champions, the caring adults who very often make the difference in a young person’s life.

“CPB is proud to support public media stations engaging with local partners to help students succeed in school and in life,” said Deb Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Education and Children’s Content Operations. “Addressing the needs of underserved audiences is central to our mission and the American Graduate initiative reflects public media’s commitment to fostering lifelong learning and serving local community needs.”

The CPB-funded American Graduate initiative was launched in 2011 to feature school-based and community solutions that keep kids on a path to a high school diploma. To date, more than 125 public media stations have partnered with more than 1,700 organizations in high-need communities across the country to improve student outcomes and have raised more than $17 million in new local philanthropic support to continue this work. You can read more about the work of public media stations through American Graduate in the report “Putting the Community First.”