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New Data on National Graduation Rates Point to Need for Community-Based Solutions to Dropout Crisis

New data on high school graduation rates released by the U.S. Department of Education underscore the continued need for innovative, community-based solutions highlighted by American Graduate, a local/national public media initiative focused on improving high school graduation rates.The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics showed that the graduation rate for the nation's class of 2014 reached a record high 82 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from the class of 2013's graduation rate.Graduation rates for several student demographics rose as well from the class of 2013 to the class of 2014, except for American Indian and Alaskan Native students, for whom rates remained virtually flat. But significant gaps remain, particularly between white students and their black and Hispanic counterparts, and economically disadvantaged students.The data follows the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (or ESSA) on December 10, 2015, the first major national education overhaul since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.American Graduate, public media’s long-term commitment to supporting community-based solutions to improving high school graduation rates, funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has been showcasing ways in which communities can prepare more youth for success in the 21st century workplace since 2009.

The WSKG Youth Focused team has collaborated with six community partners to help students identify the challenges they face, share their successes, and reflect on why it's important to keep working toward that diploma.

Students at Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC), Binghamton Boys & Girls Clubs, and Evertech Alternative High School learned audio production skills to share their American Graduate stories. Students at Binghamton High School planned and hosted Are You In?, a community event promoting attendance and graduation, in 2012 and produced audio stories in 2014-2015. Students at Oneonta Family YMCA and Corning- Painted Post High School Learning Center learned video production skills to create their American Graduate stories.

These media production experiences are part of YouthVoice, WSKG's media production experience for middle and high school students. WSKG empowers young people with the tools and skills to share their voices around the important topic of high school graduation. WSKG believes that communities can learn from the experiences and insights of these inspiring, talented young people. We are proud to share their unique American Graduate stories!For more about how American Graduate is working locally, please contact Jackie Stapleton, Director of Youth Focused Content, Services, & Programming at jstapleton@wskg.org. You can also see more examples of the work of American Graduate at www.americangraduate.org or www.wskg.org/upstategrad