Type: Public event

U.S. High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations

Date & time

Sep 14, 2011, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT


Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Betty Ford Classroom
735 S. State Street 1110 Weill Hall Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public.

The U.S. high school graduation rate rose markedly during the first 70 years of the 20th century. This contributed to the human capital development that fueled economic growth and increases in standards of living. Since 1970, the U.S. high school graduation rate has stagnated, while those of other industrialized nations have risen. Do the patterns differ by gender, race, or ethnicity? Why should we care about these trends and patterns? Why did they occur? What is the evidence on strategies that are effective in increasing the high school graduation rate and the skills of American students? This talk addresses these questions, using evidence from several national and state data sets.

Richard Murnane, an economist, is Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In recent years he has pursued three lines of research. With MIT Professors Frank Levy and David Autor, he has examined how computer-based technological change has affected skill demands in the U.S. economy. Murnane and Levy have written two books on this topic. The second line of research examines how increases in family income inequality in the U.S. have influenced educational opportunities for children from low-income families. Murnane and Greg Duncan have co-edited a volume describing four years of research on this topic. The volume, Whither Opportunity: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances, will be published in September 2011. The third area of research examines the consequences of particular initiatives designed to improve the performance of the education sector. For example, along with HGSE colleagues, Murnane has examined the consequences of providing salary bonuses to attract skilled teachers to high need schools and the impact that exit examination requirements have on the probability that economically disadvantaged students graduate from high school. Murnane and his colleague, John Willett, recently published a book Methods Matter: Improving Causal Inference in Educational and Social Science Research (Oxford U. Press, 2011).

Sponsored by the Education Policy Initiative (EPI) at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. EPI is a program of coordinated activities designed to bring the latest academic knowledge to issues of education policy. Generous support provided by Charles H. and Susan Gessner.