A coalition of civil rights groups is working to upgrade the importance of graduation rates under NCLB.
The groups want it to be a mandatory part of the accountability decisions (states now have the option of using it). They want states to use a standard way to calculate the rates (states now can set their own methods, with U.S. Department of Education’s approval). And they want graduation rates to be disaggregated by various subgroups of students. (Read all about it in the Campaign for High School Equity’s report outlining its priorities and its press release describing its event on Capitol Hill yesterday.)
Graduation rates are the “cornerstone” of high school accountability, the coalition argues. Without them, school officials can raise their schools’ test scores by encouraging low-achieving students to drop out. With them, that wouldn’t happen because the school’s graduation data would suffer.
But it would be one more thing to disaggregate. That would add several more specific goals that schools and districts would need to meet to achieve their AYP goals.
The group has significant support on Capitol Hill. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., appeared at a briefing the coalition held yesterday. On its Web site, you can watch videos of three House members discussing the coalition’s agenda at its launch last year.
A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.