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Graduation Rates: One More Thing to Disaggregate?


A coalition of civil rights groups is working to upgrade the importance of graduation rates under NCLB.

The groups want it to be a mandatory part of the accountability decisions (states now have the option of using it). They want states to use a standard way to calculate the rates (states now can set their own methods, with U.S. Department of Education's approval). And they want graduation rates to be disaggregated by various subgroups of students. (Read all about it in the Campaign for High School Equity's report outlining its priorities and its press release describing its event on Capitol Hill yesterday.)

Graduation rates are the "cornerstone" of high school accountability, the coalition argues. Without them, school officials can raise their schools' test scores by encouraging low-achieving students to drop out. With them, that wouldn't happen because the school's graduation data would suffer.

But it would be one more thing to disaggregate. That would add several more specific goals that schools and districts would need to meet to achieve their AYP goals.

The group has significant support on Capitol Hill. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., appeared at a briefing the coalition held yesterday. On its Web site, you can watch videos of three House members discussing the coalition's agenda at its launch last year.


I hate to say it, but their approach would become a perfect example of the OOOOPS Factor.

When we focus on NCLB-type accountability the inevitable rsults is A) an increase in the

The measure commonly used for high school graduation rates is how many students graduate “on time.” In other words, taking longer is considered a sign of failure. I think graduating in more than four years shows perseverance. Many students need to work after school, and a five-year high school program makes more sense for them. Nobody worries how long it takes students to finish their MAs and PhDs, and taking more than four years for college is becoming the norm.

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