Alliance for Excellent Education Asks: What is the Nation’s Actual High School Graduation Rate and Why Does it Matter?
Understanding High School Graduation Rates, a new publication from the Alliance for Excellent Education, illustrates the discrepancies in graduation rates reported by government and independent sources, examines why this is important, and explains how certain federal policies have contributed to the graduation rate confusion.
“The nation will not have met the goal of leaving no child behind until every student graduates from high school prepared for success in college, work, and life,” says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Providing an excellent education starts with understanding whether the student who starts high school is the one who stays and earns a diploma. Misleading graduation rate calculations, inadequate systems to track students throughout their education, and lack of accountability by the school are undermining efforts to understand and increase the nation’s graduation rate.”
Understanding High School Graduation Rates compares graduation rates reported by the states and the U.S. Department of Education to those reported by independent researchers. While the average difference between state and independent sources is about 13 percent, the gap ranges from a low of 4 percent to a high of 32 percent.
Additionally, Understanding High School Graduation Rates considers the costs of the dropout crisis and identifies three core areas that are fundamental to calculating, reporting, and improving accurate graduation rates:
- The need for all states to use the same accurate graduation rate calculations
- The need for a state data system that tracks individual student data from the time students enter the educational system until they leave it
- The need for federal policy that meaningfully holds high schools accountable for improving student achievement on test scores and increasing graduation rates so that low-performing students are not unnecessarily held back or encouraged to leave school without a diploma.
Understanding High School Graduation Rates is available here.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.