That translates into at least 100,000 more students getting a diploma.
But the report from America's Promise Alliance to be released Tuesday also says that progress needs to increase fivefold for the country to graduate 9 out of 10 students by 2020.
A dropout factory is a school at which less than 60 percent of students who started as freshmen remain enrolled four years later.
Nationally, the number of "dropout factories" fell 13 percent, from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,746 in 2008.
"States and communities that made breakthrough progress serve as a challenge to those that have not improved," said
Dr. Robert Balfanz, co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center, said that while states and communities have made "breakthrough progress," that improvement should serve "as a challenge to those that have not improved."
He said there were still 2.2 million students attending such schools.
Among the findings in today report:
• A majority of the decline in "dropout factories" occurred in the South, with Texas (-77 schools), Georgia (-36), Alabama (-26), Tennessee (-24), South Carolina (-17), Florida (-15), Mississippi (-14) and Louisiana (-10) reducing their number of low-grad rate high schools.
• Tennessee and New York led the nation in boosting their graduation rates, by 15% and 10%, respectively.
• Tennessee and Texas demonstrated declines in the number of dropout factories in all learning environments - urban, suburban, towns and rural.
• From 2002 to 2008, more than half of all states (29 in all) dramatically increased statewide graduation rates. Rates remained steady in 18 states.
• In three states graduation rates worsened from 2002 to 2008: Arizona (74.7% to 70.7%), Utah (80.5% to 74.3%), and Nevada (71.9% to 51.3%).
For more info:
Special Section: "Building a Grad Nation" (America's Promise Alliance)
Report: "Building a Grad Nation" (pdf)
Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University (Includes Interactive Map, State Indices)