Statement from The Education Trust on the National Governors Association’s “Graduation Counts: A Compact on State High School Graduation Data”
(Washington, DC) The Education Trust applauds the governors across the country who today pledged to develop more accurate measures of high school graduation and to build better data systems to collect, analyze, and report this information.
Graduation rates are a fundamental measure of whether high schools are doing their job. Without reliable data on how many students actually earn diplomas, policymakers, educators, and the public lack the information they need to understand the extent of the problem and take steps –both inside and outside of schools– to improve outcomes for all students. These governors and the National Governors Association deserve praise for tackling this issue head on.
In signing this agreement, states have committed to making much-needed, long-term improvements in the way they track and account for students. Equally important, states have promised to take steps right now to improve the accuracy of graduation-rate calculations and reporting. These steps include implementing clear policies on how to count students who leave school and conducting periodic audits to check the accuracy of dropout data.
These immediate steps will yield, in some places, surprisingly low graduation rates to the public numbers far lower than previously reported by states. And the new, more accurate rates will force some communities to confront painful realities about how many students really drop out.
But owning up to the problem is the first step to addressing it. We congratulate governors for having the courage to get honest about graduation rates. These new numbers should be the basis for meaningful action on high school reform–and for whole communities to take ownership of this problem.
States still have a lot of work ahead in following through on the commitment they have made today. But it will all be worth it if more young people leave high school with a diploma in hand.
The Education Trust works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college, and forever closing the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other youth