(WASHINGTON POST) — More high school students across the country are graduating on time but dropouts continue to be a significant national problem, creating a drag on the economy, according to a report to be issued Monday by a nonprofit group headed by former secretary of state Colin L. Powell.

The national graduation rate increased to 75.5 percent in 2009, up from 72 percent in 2001. And the number of “dropout factories” — high schools where at least 60 percent of students do not graduate on time — fell from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,550 in 2010.

“The number of kids attending these dropout factories is down by one-third, and that points to progress that states have made in reforming schools, closing them or giving kids other options,” said Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, which produced the “Building a Grad Nation” report along with America’s Promise Alliance and Civic Enterprises.

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