WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- U.S. high schools are making progress in improving graduation rates, particularly at schools once known as "dropout factories," educators said.
Tennessee and New York led the 24 states reporting modest to large gains in graduation rates, Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education said in a report released Monday.
The number of high schools graduating 60 percent or fewer students on time, which are often described as "dropout factories," decreased by 457 from 2002 to 2010. There were 2,007 of the under-performing schools in 2002 and 1,550 in 2010.
The national graduation rate increased by 3.5 percentage points from 2001 to 2009 (72 percent in 2001 to 75.5 percent in 2009). Wisconsin leads the country with a graduation rate of 90 percent.
Tennessee saw a 17.8 percent increase in graduations and New York reported a 13 percent increase. Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, Missouri, Alabama, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Kentucky were also among the top states seeing improvement.
Declines in graduation rates were reported in Nevada, Connecticut, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Nebraska, Arkansas, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
The report was released Monday as part of the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit, which is working to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020.