The U.S. public high school graduation rate has risen to 80 percent, but more than 700,000 teens still drop out each year. Experts say dropouts create an economic and societal burden because they are ill-prepared to participate in an increasingly sophisticated global economy. The dropout rate is highly uneven, with students who are poor, disabled or still learning English more likely to leave school. Much of the problem can be traced to factors such as poverty, family instability and dangerous neighborhoods. But many critics also fault schools for failing to engage students and Congress for resisting adequate funding for schools. At the same time, conservatives and the Obama administration are locked in a debate about the proper role of Washington in shaping school policy. The federal government aims to increase the graduation rate to 90 percent in coming years, but critics say meeting that goal demands major educational reforms and the money to pay for them.