(Washington, D.C.) -- This week, the federal government released new data which shows that the nation's high school dropout rate is higher and less accurately documented than previously reported. The findings lend support to a bill Senator Murray introduced that would help more students graduate and would help states more accurately measure student graduation rates.

"It's clear that students and schools need more support toward academic success and that's what my bill will provide. By targeting reading, math and academic planning, the PASS Act gives high schools the resources and support they need to help more students graduate prepared for college, work and citizenship," Murray said.

On Wednesday, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and First Lady Laura Bush unveiled a new online database which provides high school graduation rates based on a more accurate model than used by many states. The data shows that about one-third of all high school students do not graduate within four years. The database also shows that 50 percent of all dropouts nationwide are from a small group of mainly urban high schools.

The PASS Act [Pathways for All Students to Succeed (PASS) Act (S. 611)], which Murray first introduced four years ago, will help to increase graduation rates by providing critical resources including literacy and math coaches, additional academic and career counselors, and grants to fund innovative reform in high schools across the country. It would also help improve the accuracy of high school graduation rates across the country.

The report showed that states are using different standards to measure graduation and that's contributing to an inaccurate picture of the graduation rate challenge. Murray's bill would help states and schools collect more accurate graduation data by providing additional resources to states to help them track students through high school and establishing a uniform standard for graduation rates.

At a Senate hearing April 24th, Murray discussed her bill with a panel of education experts. Murray's legislation has been endorsed by over thirty major education associations and advocacy groups nationwide including the National Education Association, the National PTA, the College Board, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the American School Counselors Association.

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See the New Graduation Rate Database