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Statement from Alliance President Bob Wise on the Every Student Counts Act

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April 11, 2011 07:04 pm

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On April 7, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Every Student Counts Act (S.767 and H.R. 1419), which would require all states to calculate their graduation rates using the same formula and set a graduation rate goal of 90 percent for all students and disadvantaged populations. This legislation would codify and strengthen regulations developed in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that requires states to use a single, accurate graduation rate calculation; establish graduation rate goals; and set annual growth targets. In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement:

“Along with the 2008 ED regulations, the Every Student Counts Act would help bring method to the madness that is high school graduation rate calculations. Under No Child Left Behind, states were allowed to choose their own graduation rate calculations and goals. The result was a patchwork of inconsistent graduation rates that were not comparable from state to state. The 2008 regulations were a critical first step to addressing these inconsistencies; the Every Student Counts Act will take it one step further by improving these regulations and helping to ensure consistent graduation rates and goals are in place nationwide.

“In addition to requiring one accurate graduation rate calculation for all states and meaningful increases in graduation rates over time, the bill would require schools and districts to report important information to the public, such as the percentage of students who are on track to graduate and the number of students who take longer than four years to graduate. The Every Student Counts Act will also help ensure that a school does not have an incentive to push out low-performing students in order to increase the school’s test scores.

“Graduation rates are not only an indicator of a school’s success; they are also a critical predicator of a community’s economic health. Nearly 1.3 million students did not graduate from high school in 2010, costing the nation over $337 billion in lost lifetime earnings.

“I commend Senator Harkin and Representative Scott for taking the reins to guide federal education policy toward a system of accountability and transparency that ensures all students stay in school and graduate ready to succeed in college and careers.”

U.S. Representatives Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Danny Davis (D-IL), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Donald Payne (D-NJ) are original cosponsors of the Every Student Counts Act.

More information on the Every Student Counts Act can be found here.

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.