Better Accountability for Graduation Rates Essential for High School Reform, According to Alliance for Excellent Education
New Brief Makes Recommendations to Improve Reporting and Require Progress
In its new brief, Every Student Counts: The Case for Graduation Rate Accountability, the Alliance for Excellent Education argues that the way graduation rates are measured and reported seriously undermines effective high school reform, and identifies four policy recommendations for meaningful improvement.
Graduation rate calculations vary widely from state to state, resulting in measurements that are not comparable and not always reliable. Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act has not addressed these discrepancies and the U.S. Department of Education has not required schools to appreciably increase the numbers of students they are graduating over time—undermining graduation rates as a tool for genuine reform. For example, schools are allowed to set low graduation rate expectations to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals; meet AYP by demonstrating statistically insignificant progress; and report overall graduation rates as opposed to rates within sub-groups, which tell a more complete story.
Every Student Counts: The Case for Graduation Rate Accountability urges policymakers to take action in four areas to make graduation rates an effective measure of how well high schools are educating all of their students:
- Implement consistent and accurate calculations of graduation rates to ensure comparability and transparency.
- Require aggressive, attainable, and uniform annual growth requirements as part of AYP to ensure a minimum, consistent increase in graduation rates.
- Give equal weight to graduation rates and required assessments in determining AYP, so that schools have balanced incentives to ensure that their students graduate and to raise their test scores, instead of doing one at the expense of the other.
- Require disaggregation for the reporting and accountability of graduation rates to ensure that school improvement activities focus on all students and close achievement gaps.
“The current system stresses testing while neglecting the essential measurement of whether or not students are actually graduating,” says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “I urge Secretary Spellings to incorporate the four principles presented in the Alliance’s brief as she develops regulations on graduation rates. These same principles must be taken into account by Congress, as well, as it works on the No Child Left Behind Act.”
Every Student Counts: The Case for Graduation Rate Accountability 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.