associated with lower dropout rates, which may be pursued in greater depth in future research. We make two recommendations with regard to the kinds of actions that states should take to improve policy and practice:

RECOMMENDATION 7-2: State governments should develop more robust education data systems that can better measure student progress and institutional improvement efforts.

RECOMMENDATION 7-3: State governments should support reform efforts to demonstrate how districts can develop and effectively use more comprehensive education data systems to improve dropout and graduation rates, along with improved student achievement.

Finally, we think the federal government should play an active role in this area by collecting data on the precursors of dropping out. This would allow for indicators of progress toward graduation at the national level and enable comparative studies on early indicators of dropout across states and localities. We therefore recommend:

RECOMMENDATION 7-4: The federal government should collect aggregate-level indicators of student progress toward high school graduation at the federal, state, and local levels. Such aggregate-level indicators should be collected by grade level in the middle grades (6 through 8) and by year during high school (first year, second year, etc.). These indicators should include variables, such as the number of students missing 10 percent or more of school days, average number of days absent, average number of course failures, number of students failing one course or more, mean GPA, and indicators of behavior problems.

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