Some of the applications submitted by 11 states seeking waivers from major requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act could undermine efforts to improve graduation rates, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. In a policy brief issued last week, the Washington-based alliance says that “the treatment of high school graduation rates in many state accountability indexes may reverse progress made in recent years to ensure accurate graduation rates are fully included in school accountability systems.”
The alliance singles out Kentucky and New Mexico for giving particularly light weights to high school graduation in the accountability systems they propose as part of their NCLB waiver applications. Kentucky’s system would give graduation rates only 14 percent of the total index, while New Mexico’s would assign such rates 17 percent. Most states applying for waivers offered plans that would give high school graduation rates less than one-quarter of the weight of their total accountability indexes, the brief says.
The alliance urges federal officials to reject waiver applications unless the proposed accountability systems give equal weight to graduation rates and student achievement, while also allowing states to use additional measures of college- and career-readiness.
A version of this article appeared in the January 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Group Says Waivers May Hurt Grad Rates