Senate Democrats

Reid, Murray, Pryor Introduce Legislation To Help Innovate Our Middle And High Schools

Washington, DC — U.S. Senators Harry Reid of Nevada, Patty Murray of Washington, Mark Pryor of Arkansas today introduced the Getting Retention and Diplomas Up Among Today’s Enrolled Students (GRADUATES) Act to strengthen secondary schools nationwide. 

“Many students in Nevada and throughout the United States currently lack the skills needed to thrive in a growing global economy,” said Reid.  “The number of students who do not graduate is far too high, and many of the students who do earn their degree still lack the knowledge to succeed in college and the workforce.  The GRADUATES Act will help tackle this problem head on by providing resources for innovative school reform to help students graduate and participate in the 21st Century economy.”

“Our nation’s greatest resource is our young people. The more we invest in them with reforms that work, the stronger our country will be for the future,” Murray said.  “Unfortunately, right now our schools are in crisis – high dropout rates, high rates of illiteracy, and serious challenges in preparing graduates for success after high school.  We must stop this downward spiral in our high schools so that our economy can continue to grow and we can continue to compete globally. The GRADUATES Act really fills a hole in education policy by providing critical support in high school that will help our students graduate ready to succeed.”

“Our nation’s teachers and administrators work hard each and every day to provide students with the knowledge they need to succeed in college or the workforce. Despite our best efforts, too many students are slipping through the cracks,” Pryor said. “This bill includes the flexibility, accountability and resources necessary to provide a new avenue of success for many of today’s students.”

The GRADUATES Act will:

  • Authorize $500 million in competitive grants each year for six years;
  • Provide grants to partnerships between states and school districts and institutes of higher education, community-based organizations, non-profits and businesses to create innovative models of reform in schools; 
  • Create evidence-based, systemic and replicable models of reform in schools that improve student achievement and prepare students to succeed in post-secondary education and the 21st Century workforce;
  • Support strategies for innovation in schools such as multiple pathways, smaller learning communities and personalization, early college and dual enrollment, career academies, improved transitions and alignment, expanded learning time, post-secondary and work-based learning opportunities, increased autonomy and flexibility at the school level, improved learning opportunities in rural schools and increasing rigor at all levels of education;
  • Provide for research, evaluation and accountability to ensure that federal funding would only sustain programs with proven improvement in student achievement.