July 09, 2015

Wyden Praises Increased Focus on Graduation Rates in Senate Education Reform Bill

Wyden-Authored Provision Makes More Schools Eligible for Federal Support to Boost High School Graduation Rates

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today applauded the inclusion of his provision to help boost high school graduation rates in Oregon and across the country in a bill to reauthorize federal education funding that is currently being considered in the U.S. Senate.

The Wyden-authored provision would make more low-income and low-performing middle and high schools eligible for federal funding that can be used to help schools enhance student achievement. The provision expands eligibility for federal School Improvement Grants to middle and high schools where 40 percent or more of the student population comes from low-income households.

 “The most successful schools in Oregon have staff who locate at-risk students, intervene early, and work with them to help them get their diplomas. Congress has the opportunity to replace the failed policies of No Child Left Behind with a bill that gives the next generation a better chance to succeed,” Wyden said.

“The federal government must do more to help high school students get their diplomas and boost graduation rates. That means identifying at-risk students, and encouraging educators to provide them with the support they need to finish high school. I’m going to be working to strengthen this bill by adding measures to help low-income students graduate from high school and get on track to greater opportunities later in life.”

School Improvement Grants can be used by high schools to improve graduation rates with efforts such as intensive drop-out prevention and re-entry programs and extended learning time programs. However, the majority of high schools, including more than 100 high-poverty high schools in Oregon, are ineligible for the kinds of federal support that can help schools improve. Nationally, there are more than 2,000 such schools. Last year, Oregon received more than $5 million in school improvement grants to help schools raise graduation rates and boost their overall performance.

Higher graduation rates have been linked to lower unemployment and better earnings.

Oregon’s 2015 Teacher of the Year, Michael Lindblad, expressed support for Wyden’s efforts to raise graduation rates in the education bill.

“I’m thrilled that Sen. Wyden is working to give more schools that serve students in poverty access to the types of federal dollars that can bring graduation rates up and close the education gap,” said Lindblad, who was also recently awarded a National Education Association Global Fellowship. “My school and schools across Oregon can use this federal funding to keep kids in the classroom through efforts like mentorship programs, helping them earn their diplomas and open the door to greater success in life.”

The broader bill, the Every Child Achieves Act, reforms the previous K-12 education law, No Child Left Behind, to give states more flexibility in setting standards for schools and monitor how federal dollars are allocated to school districts. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.

A one-page summary of the Wyden provision in the Every Child Achieves Act can be found here.