Every year one-point-three million American students, seven thousand a day, drop out of school.
General Colin Powell of America's Promise Alliance said, "It is not just a crisis, it is a catastrophe."
Poor students, minorities and those in the South have the highest rates.
The government has identified two thousand low-performing schools that produce nearly half the nation's dropouts.
President Obama calls them "Dropout Factories" and wants to shut them down, or turned into charter schools.
"You can't defend a status quo in which a third of our kids are dropping out," said President Obama.
Educators are now honing in on 9th grade based on research.
Cleveland Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eugene Sanders said, "Ninth grade has proven to be the most critical year to determine high school graduation."
The Alliance For Excellent Education says keeping kids in school can help America's bottom line.
Saving billions on health care, crime and preparing the next generation for jobs.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said, "The jobs of the future, particularly in this country, require a college education."
The Alliance reports raising minority graduation rates to that of white students over the next decade would add 310 billion dollars to the U.S. economy.