Will Spellings Tell States to Improve Graduation Rates?

April 03, 2008 1 min read

In a post earlier this week, I raised two unanswered questions about the education secretary’s proposed policy regarding high school graduation rates:

Which formula will the Department of Education propose requiring states to use? Will the department require schools and districts to meet graduation-rate targets for every subgroup of students to make AYP?

This morning, I talked with Bethany Little of the Alliance for Excellent Education, and she added one more: Will the department require states to set goals to increase high schools’ graduation rates?

Under NCLB, the department approved state plans to calculate graduation rates using some of the methods that Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings denounced in her Tuesday speech. What’s more, the department has allowed states to set goals for graduation rates that require little or no improvement in schools and districts.

Back in 2006, Little called the department’s actions “laughable.” Now, she is waiting for the department to publish rules in the Federal Register to see whether the department is getting serious.

While we’re on this topic, here are some links of note:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: “The high dropout rate is more than a national problem—it’s a national crisis jeopardizing our strength in the modern global economy.”

Kevin Carey: “This new policy is a kind of national standard.” Can national standards for academic content be far behind?

Charlie Barone: “In failing to take decisive action on this issue, states and school districts effectively have sent a message to the federal government: ‘stop us before we kill again.’ ”

Sherman Dorn:"Spellings is channeling Adlai Stevenson’s approach to governance and proudly announcing bold action on issues that are almost consensual and would happen without her intervention.”

AFT President Ed McElroy: “The key issue really isn’t the formula that eventually will be selected but rather the need for a much more aggressive program to reduce the high school dropout rate.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.