Press Advisory

A Federal Role in Closing the Graduation Gap

Solutions for resolving the disparity in graduation rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, November 17, 2006, a panel of education experts will discuss solutions for the growing graduation gap between high school minority groups and whites.

Nationally, the high school on-time graduation rate has peaked at just 70% despite decades of efforts to improve educational outcomes. Rates for African American and Hispanic students are considerably lower. But we now know how to help more students succeed. With the identification of leading dropout indicators and strategies and solutions to improve high school completion, what will it take to get serious about helping potential dropouts become successful learners ready for postsecondary study or work?

Join us as we learn about the key provisions of the Graduation Promise Act, as proposed by Adria Steinberg and Cassius Johnson of Jobs for the Future and Hilary Pennington of the Center for American Progress

Featured Participants:
Adria Steinberg, Associate Vice President, Jobs for the Future
Cassius Johnson, Project Manager, Jobs for the Future
Robert Balfanz, Research Scientist, Center for Social Organization of Schools, John’s Hopkins University
Carmel Martin, General Counsel and Chief Education Advisor, Senator Edward Kennedy; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

Hilary Pennington, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress and Co-founder and Vice Chair, Jobs for the Future

Friday, November 17, 2006
: 12:30pm to 2:00pm
Admission is free.
Lunch will be served at noon.

Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW
Washington, DC 20005
Map & Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

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Adria Steinberg is Associate Vice President of Jobs for the Future, where she leads work on improving educational outcomes and options for struggling students and out-of-school youth. She has almost four decades of experience in the field of education as a teacher, administrator, researcher, and writer. Combining knowledge of practice, policy, and research, her articles and books have made her a key contributor to the national conversation about high school reform. Cassius Johnson is a Project Manager at Jobs for the Future where he conducts research and works on state and federal policy to improve outcomes for struggling students and out-of-school youth. Previously, he was chief of staff for a member of the Texas House of Representatives, where he handled legislation addressing disciplinary policies and the quality of education available to struggling students.

Robert Balfanz is a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University. He is the Co-Director of the Talent Development Middle and High School Project, which is currently working with over 75 high-poverty secondary schools to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive whole school reforms. His work focuses on translating research findings into effective reforms for high-poverty secondary schools. He has published widely on secondary school reform, the high school graduation rate crisis, and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools. Recent work includes, “Locating the Dropout Crisis,” with co-author Nettie Legters in which they identify the number and location of high schools with high dropout rates. Dr. Balfanz is currently the lead investigator on a Middle School Dropout Prevention project in collaboration with the Philadelphia Education Fund, which is funded by the William Penn Foundation. Dr. Balfanz has also been the co-author of a number of mathematics curriculums including UCSMP Everyday Mathematics and Big Math for Little Kids.

Carmel Martin is General Counsel and Chief Education Advisor to Senator Kennedy for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Prior to joining Senator Kennedy’s HELP Committee staff, she worked as the Associate Director for Domestic Policy at the Center for American Progress. She previously worked in the Senate as Chief Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Jeff Bingaman and special counsel to Senator Tom Daschle. Through her years working in Congress, Carmel has worked on legislation related to education, welfare, and other issues important to children and families. Earlier, she practiced as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section at the Department of Justice as well as in the private sector as a member of the Education Practice of Hogan & Hartson. There she counseled and represented school districts and Institutions of Higher Education from all over the country. She graduated with a J.D. and Masters in Public Policy from the University of Texas School of Law and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. After graduate school, Carmel was a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas Reavley, United States Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hilary Pennington is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, and Co-Founder of Jobs for the Future, a research and policy development organization. At Jobs for the Future, Ms. Pennington has overseen an extensive research and policy agenda, as well as consulting with over 20 states and many communities on the issues of economic change, youth transitions, and workforce development. Ms. Pennington was a member of President Clinton’s Presidential Transition team in 1992 and recently completed tenure as Co-Chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities. She has advised President Clinton and the first Bush administration on workforce and education policies and worked with the Secretaries of the Departments of Labor and Education to design the landmark School to Work Opportunities Act, enacted in 1994. Prior to founding Jobs for the Future, Ms. Pennington worked in corporate strategy and public policy at Aetna and the Boston Consulting Group. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Management and Yale College. She holds a graduate degree in Social Anthropology from Oxford University.