Inflated Graduation Rates?

An 81% graduation rate is impressive and much closer to the goal of 90% by 2020 than we were a few years ago. But how telling is that figure? Graduation rates are calculated in complex varying ways from school to school and state to state.

Some practices are misleading, whether intentional or not it’s unclear. Some students in districts around the country were labeled as moving or attending private schools when in reality they were going to alternative schools or GED programs. This mislabeling skews graduation data because it removes student from the denominator used to calculate graduation rates.

Credit Recovery is an online program for students to gain credit for courses they’ve failed or missed.The issue with programs like these are that they are easier and less rigorous than standard courses. Students are able to have multiple chances to pass, but without rigor are on average passing at a different standard than their graduated peers.

In some states students must pass a high school exit exam. Last year in Camden, New Jersey half of students failed not only the first test, but the second test as well. The second test is untimed and only consists of one question per subject area. If a student has failed both exams they are then allowed to send in samples of their work to the state for graduation approval as a part of an appeals process.

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