A Promise Worth Keeping: Advancing the High School Graduation Rate in Philadelphia

In 2006, Unfulfilled Promise: The Dimensions and Characteristics of Philadelphia’s Dropout Crisis, 2000–2005 shed light on how many students drop out of high school in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) and what factors put students at risk for dropping out. The results were grim: for students entering high school between 1997 and 2001, the on-time graduation rate hovered around 50 percent.

In 2014, Project U-Turn commissioned PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Johns Hopkins University to conduct a follow-up study to examine whether the prevention and intervention initiatives reduced dropout rates by addressing the following questions:

  • What were the cohort graduation and dropout rates? What factors related to these rates?
  • How did subpopulations vary in graduation rates and risk factors for dropout?
  • What were the re-engagement rates for high school dropouts over time? Of the students who dropped out of high school and re-engaged, how many participated in a Project U-Turn re- engagement program?
  • How many students eventually enrolled in post- secondary institutions?


Ransom J, Griffis H, Eder J, Byrnes V, French B, Balfanz R, Iver DM, Rubin D