The Bush administration on April 1 announced that it will require states and school systems to report high school graduation rates in a uniform way, instead of using a variety of methods that critics say are often based on unreliable information.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the change at a news conference at which a report was released showing that 17 of the nation’s 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent.

Spellings said the high school dropout crisis is known as a “silent epidemic,” because the problem is frequently masked or minimized by inconsistent and opaque data


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