New bill focuses on U.S. graduation rates

Bob Wise, former West Virginia governor and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, said in a statement that the legislation “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.”

Regulations introduced in 2008 required schools to use the same formula to report graduation rates, and wise said this latest legislation strengthens those efforts by improving the regulations and placing an emphasis on consistency.

“Graduation rates are not only an indicator of a school’s success; they are also a critical predictor 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,” Wise said.

Despite that increase, the bill’s sponsors maintain that change is still necessary to ensure that as many students as possible graduate from high school within four years.

The legislation would focus school improvement activities on all students, and would attempt to close achievement gaps by requiring that graduation rates be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, migrant status, English proficiency, and status as economically disadvantaged for accountability and reporting purposes.

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