At the America’s Promise Alliance April 1 event, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced plans for administrative action to ensure that all states use the same formula to calculate high school graduation rates. Spellings said that action would be taken in the “coming weeks” and that the graduation rate data would be publicly available so that people can compare how students of every race, background, and income level are performing.
“One reason that the high school dropout crisis is known as the ‘silent epidemic’ is that the problem is frequently masked or minimized by inconsistent and opaque data reporting systems,” Spellings said. “For example, in some districts, a student who leaves school is counted as a dropout only if he or she registers as one. In others, a dropout’s promise to get a G.E.D. at an unspecified future date is good enough to merit ‘graduate’ status. With such loose definitions of what it means to graduate, it’s no wonder this epidemic has been so silent!”
Spellings also said the need for more accurate graduation rates and greater accountability is an issue of “strong consensus” and said that it unites everyone from business to government to the nonprofit sector.
Her entire speech is available at http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/04/04012008.html.