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Spellings: Graduation Rates Should Be Uniform, Disaggregated

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Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings says she will soon propose rules that would require all states to use the same formula to calculate high schools' graduation rates. She said she would require schools to disaggregate data by socioeconomic status, race, and other categories—just as schools are required to do for test scores under NCLB.

She announced the plan in a speech she delivered at an event kicking off a series of summits on drop outs sponsored by America's Promise Alliance. But she left many questions unanswered.

What formula will she propose that states use, I asked her after her speech.

She didn't want to give details, she said, because she didn't want to speak publicly about it while the Office of Management reviews her plan.

Would it look like the formula that governors agreed to use in 2005?

"I don't think people will be surprised by the approach that we take," she added.

Will states be required to use graduation rates in determining whether schools and districts are meeting AYP?

"If I told you now, you wouldn't have anything to do between now and the end of the month," she said.

I assured her that I had plenty of other things I could work on. But she wouldn't budge.

I'll be working on a short story for edweek.org. It will be up by the end of the day. In the mean time, you may want to read Sam Dillon's take for The New York Times. He got an advanced peek at the speech, but not much else.

Also, see this statement from Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. The chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee says he endorses the proposal for a uniform graduation rate, but he's disappointed that the Bush administration abandoned his bipartisan effort to reauthorize No Child Left Behind last year.

3 Comments

It's about time!

It would also be appropriate for Spellings to exercise some executive power to establish national standards with corresponding national assessments and one, common definition for "proficient."

Enough with all the shenanigans from the states with their misleading test results and their outrageous definitions for "proficient."

Do these people honestly believe they're fooling anyone?

David,

Did I read you correctly? Spellings the true believer in test-driven accountability may be agnostic on whether her new, improved graduation rates should count for AYP?

And true believers in NCLB aren't demanding hard accountability?

If the disinfectant of sunlight may be good enough for graduation rates, shouldn't the same logic apply to student performance?

After all, NCLB is supposed to focus on poor children and schools. I would think that safe and orderly schools would be priority #1. How come we aren't making the same effort to toughen standards and add teeth to Persistantly Dangerous School indicators?

You guys know the politics better than I but I'm perplexed. NCLB has taken it on the chin in regards to evaluations of its effectiveness. The headlines are full of reports of violence and disorder in schools. Contrary to the negative "brand" of NCLB, the public would widely support safety and order in schools. NCLB has been grossly cost ineffective, but at a time of possible recession, we assume that "stay the course" on testing and AYP is good politics.

Data-driven accountability, even on a federal level, might be a good idea in a decade or so, but obviously its not yet ready.

I may be missing something, but aren't the defenders of NCLB-type accountability arguing, "We lose on everything we sell but make it up on volume." We wasted enormous amounts of money on NCLB, but we can't stop because we want taxpayers (in this time of economic hardship) to continue to invest more on the same thing?

Bill Moyer did a story on the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (more commonly known as The Kerner Report at http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/03282008/watch.html
" THE JOURNAL looks at an update of the Kerner Commission Report, which blamed the violence on the devastating poverty and hopelessness endemic in the inner cities of the 1960s and includes an interview with former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris, one of the last living members of the Kerner Commission."
Mr. Moyer stated, " The Kerner Report became a moment of clarity for America. A time when the nation was forced to focus on the harsh realities of racism, poverty and injustice in our cities."
Given the turmoil and Civil Rights Movement 60's, I am concluding that the federal government chose to focus on public education by passing the ESEA of 1965 because federal dollars could be allocated to sustain the public education system as apposed to allocating funds to private busineeses to remain in the cities.
Mr. Hoff, if you get a chance to ask the secretary a question, perhaps you could ask her,if we do manage to educate all of the children in the US,where will they go to get the jobs? After all, jobs are going to other countries, not the suburbs.

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  • Kathy: Bill Moyer did a story on the National Advisory Commission read more
  • john thompson: David, Did I read you correctly? Spellings the true believer read more
  • Paul Hoss: It's about time! It would also be appropriate for Spellings read more

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