Secretary Duncan sat down for a conversation with America’s Promise Alliance’s president and CEO, John Gomperts, Tuesday to talk about the state of education in the country. The conversation came on the heels of the APA’s release of the Building on a Grad Nation report that both highlighted the record high school graduation rate at 81.4 percent and indicated the nation remained on pace to meet the organization’s goal of 90 percent on-time graduation by 2020.
While Duncan celebrated the promising gains in the graduation rate—particularly among students of color—he called for more action to not only improve graduation rates, but to ensure that those who graduate are truly ready for college and career. “This is not mission accomplished,” he said. “This is not the promised land.”
Making sure students today are college and career ready is the real measuring stick for success in today’s knowledge-based economy – not just getting a high school diploma. If a student shows up to college in need of remedial courses, then we as a nation still have much work to do.
“While we should be encouraged by projections like the one in this year’s Grad Nation report, we know that more hard work remains to truly prepare all—not just some—students for success in college, careers and life. Education must be the equalizer that can help overcome the odds stacked against too many of our students,” Duncan said during the event.
Duncan argued that a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is necessary if we are to fulfill the right of all children to have a real opportunity to succeed.
We must “work with huge urgency, honesty, and humility,” Duncan said, if we are going to ensure that our nation, that is for the first time majority minority, continues to show progress that ensures all kids get the opportunity to succeed.
Patrick Kerr is a member of the Communications Development division in the Office of Communications and Outreach.