Study: States Using Questionable Methods to Report High-School Graduation Rates

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON

A recent report released by the Education Trust finds that states are deliberately reporting exaggerated highschool graduation rates.

The analysis, entitled "Getting Honest About Graduation Rates: How States Play the Numbers and Students Lose," examines the 2002-2003 graduation rate data submitted by states to the U.S. Department of Education in January 2005. The study revealed glaring statistical disparities.

Nationally, only 68 percent of students who enter ninth grade will graduate in four years with a high-school diploma. The problem is more severe for Black, Hispanic and American Indian high-school freshmen, of whom only 50 percent will graduate with their class.

For example, New Mexico reported a graduation rate of 89 percent, one of the highest in the nation. But according to the Manhattan Institute of Policy Research, that figure is grossly inaccurate. New Mexico fails to include the percentage of incoming high-school freshmen that graduate. It includes only the percentage of incoming seniors that graduate, ignoring students who dropped out prior to their senior year.

In 2001-2002 the state of Washington reported a graduation rate of 79 percent when it counted only incoming seniors. …