Accurate grad rate gift and a curse
December 20, 2012
We’ve long supported fixing the way school officials calculate graduation rates as a means of determining what’s actually going on in our schools.
It’s been a decade since state officials counted the freshman class as 1.5 times its true number, showing graduation rates far below the national average. In some instances those calculations showed that half of the state’s students failed to graduate, putting Nevada yet again on the bottom of a very bad list.
We knew that half our high school students weren’t dropping out, but convincing others that correcting that big lie was important wasn’t easy.
Some used the numbers to prove that paying for education was throwing good money after bad. Others used the numbers to claim that the state wasn’t paying near enough for education.
And lost in the debate was the reality that people used those numbers to make decisions about where to locate factories and businesses.
Now that Nevada, and most of the rest of the nation’s states, are calculating graduations rates using the same method, we have some hope that we’ll get credit for what we’re actually doing.
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But that also means we have to take responsibility for when the numbers don’t go our way. Tracking graduation rates isn’t a game, it’s a means of determining the success of our school system and making adjustments when necessary.