The question should not be “Will our children graduate high school?” The question is, “When our children graduation high school, will they be prepared for their next step toward economic mobility?”

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While graduation rates across Spartanburg County are a bright spot in the cradle to career perspective, a great challenge remains in the dialog surrounding goals students set for themselves during high school and even earlier. If they do not envision the need for some form of post-secondary training for themselves, they will not be ready for the vital next step in building an economically secure and mobile future.

High graduation rates across demographics where concerning disparities are observed at earlier achievement benchmarks, is a sign that even where children face obstacles, the system in place supports their long-term ability to be prepared to reach this goal.

While the overall news is good, a deeper look into graduation rates leads to questions:   Why is the graduation rate for our children in poverty declining?

While the overall news is good, a deeper look into graduation rates leads to questions:

Why is the graduation rate for our children in poverty declining?

Why has the rate for Hispanic students dropped while others are maintaining?  Why are males graduating at a significantly lower rate than females?

Why has the rate for Hispanic students dropped while others are maintaining?

Why are males graduating at a significantly lower rate than females?

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Work is still underway to identify measurements of "college ready" and "career ready," SAM is in the process of digging deeper into how we can measure the qualities reflected in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate and surround our students and schools with the support needed - so that a diploma from a Spartanburg County High School is measurably representative of the skills and qualities every child needs to access their chosen path for college and career success as well as economic freedom and mobility for life.

"You hear people say, ‘Well, a four-year degree isn’t needed,’ ” Connie Ballmer, the philanthropist and wife of the former Microsoft C.E.O. Steve Ballmer, recently told me.

“But then if you turn to them and say, ‘What do you want for your child?’ they wouldn’t dream of not having their kid go to a four-year college,” she continued. “They said it’s not needed — but they need it.”

Engage more deeply: with perspectives surrounding the college pay-off and income equality College Does Help the Poor and A $20 Million Gift, from The New York Times, and this perspective regarding the college conversation.