POLITICS/EDUCATION (National, State, Local): School graduation rates, achievement? fudging the numbers?: Editorial, "In the search for better graduation rates, schools are fudging the numbers" ....
* Los Angeles Times (editorial): "In the search for better graduation rates, schools are fudging the numbers" - From the LAT:
In 2014, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced a spectacular improvement in its graduation rate: Fully 77% of students who had come in as 9th graders four years earlier were now going to graduate as seniors. But there was a bit of a trick behind the number: It included only students who attended what are called “comprehensive” high schools. Those who had been transferred to alternative programs — the students most at risk of dropping out — weren’t counted. If they had been factored in, the rate would have been 67% — still good, but not nearly as flashy a number.
Here’s another example of a misleading number: In May of this year, the California Department of Education reported a rise in the statewide graduation rate, to 82%. But one reason for that was the cancellation of the high school exit exam, which used to be required for graduation and which students could pass only if they had attained a modicum of understanding of algebra and English skills.
In a time when most middle-class jobs require at least some training beyond 12th grade, raising the number of high school graduates is considered essential. Dropouts are not only more likely to be unemployed, but more likely to be imprisoned. That’s why the newly passed federal education law, optimistically titled the Every Student Succeeds Act, requires states to hold high schools accountable for improving graduation rates.
The question, though, is whether schools will bring those numbers up the hard way, by improving the quality of education – or by falling back on shortcuts and gimmicks. Early indications suggest that they’ll do a combination of both. States and school districts, not just locally but across the nation, have already come up with a wide array of ways to make graduation rates look good on paper:
The federal No Child Left Behind Act, which never did much to encourage higher graduation rates, might be dead, but its successor will have little chance of succeeding if policymakers aren’t realistic about the work and patience required to raise standards, test scores and graduation rates. It’s slow, hard, incremental work without magic solutions, and improved numbers aren’t always evidence of better-educated students.