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Promoting Power
Center for Organization of Schools > The Graduation Gap > Promoting Power

What Does Promoting Power Tell Us About the Graduation Gap?

Promoting Power compares the number of seniors enrolled in a high school to the number of freshmen four years earlier (or three years earlier in a 10-12 high school). It is currently the best available estimate of school-level graduation rates that can be used to compare high schools within and across states. For details see the Technical Notes link (see below).

This data will allow researchers, legislators, policy makers, school reformers, school district officials, social reformers, and the public to analyze for each state, as well as the nation:

• How successfully the high schools in their state or the nation are graduating their students

• How many high schools have high graduation rates and their characteristics (free lunch level, minority concentration, size, and location)

• The number and characteristics of the high schools that produce many, if not most, of the dropouts in each state and nationally.

• The extent to which minority students attend high schools with high and low graduation rates compared to non-minority students.

The following resources are available:

Graduation Gap Policy Brief   Summarizes what Promoting Power data tells us about the number, location, and characteristics of high schools with high and low graduation rates at both the national and state level.

National Profile (PDF)  Shows how promoting power varies across the nation’s high schools and by free and reduced price lunch levels, minority concentration, locale, and size.

State Summary Table (PDF)  Shows the percent of high schools in each state with different levels of promoting power and the number and characteristics of high schools with low graduation rates in each state. In addition, this table shows the extent to which high schools with low graduation rates in each state serve high poverty populations and are eligible for Title 1 funding.

Individual State Profiles Details the promoting power levels of each state’s high schools and how within each state promoting power varies by free and reduced price lunch status, minority concentration, locale (urban, suburban, town and rural) and school size.

County-level Low Promoting Power National Map (PDF)  Shows which counties have at least one high school with low graduation rates and which counties have five or more such high schools.

Technical Notes   Explains how promoting power can be used to estimate school-level graduation rates, situations in which it is likely to under- and overestimate graduation rates, and provides details on the sample of high schools analyzed and the data sources used.

“Locating the Dropout Crisis” (PDF)   A recent paper by Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters which uses promoting power to identify the number, location, and characteristics of the nation’s Dropout Factories-the high schools that produce the majority of the nation’s dropouts.

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