They touted the latest data as a positive sign, with room for improvement and optimism that will happen. Federal statistics from 2012 show that the graduation rate has reached 80 percent, which is a milestone even though it also means one in five students still don't get a diploma.
However, despite the drawbacks to the number, researchers predict the improvement will continue. They think the graduation rate could reach 90 percent by 2020.
Improvement in graduation rates among African-American and Hispanic students helped fuel the gains seen in 2012.
Most of the growth has taken place since 2006 after decades of stagnation. Researchers credit the growth to several factors like greater awareness of the dropout problem and efforts by districts, states and the federal government to include graduation rates in accountability measures.
The report is being presented Monday at the Building a GradNation Summit.