(NBCNC) - New research shows the U.S. is on track to achieve a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020.
Despite the progress, the "Building A Grad Nation" report found disparities continue for minorities and students with disabilities.
Just over two years ago 20 year-old Devontay White never would have imagined he'd be speaking at a national education summit.
White had dropped out of English High School in Boston and started getting into trouble.
"I thought it was over for me," he says.
Now he's a high school graduate planning for college all because his counselor helped him into an accelerated learning program.
The Grad Nation report found individualized programs like the ones White attended are playing a key role in improving graduation rates.
The report found 20 states have reached or on pace to reach a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.
Seven need to make moderate improvements to achieve that goal and the remaining 23 need to significantly accelerate their growth.
"Not all the educational improvement comes from school," explains John Gomperts, CEO of America's Promise Alliance. "Part of it is communities rallying around kids."
While there has been a significant decrease in the number of high schools considered drop out factories since 2002, more than 1,400 schools around the country including Cardozo High School in the District of Columbia are still struggling, many with fewer than 60 percent of the ninth graders continuing on through their senior year.
Significant achievement gaps remain for minority students and those with learning disabilities.
On Wednesday summit participants will be on Capitol Hill highlighting the roll early education plays in reducing the achievement gap.
Their comments come just weeks after President Obama said expanding preschool opportunities is one of his priorities.