President Obama stepped into the education spotlight today to claim that high school graduation rates across the country have reached a new high. Naturally, this got immediate coverage in just about every media outlet, the Washington Post being no exception.
It sounds very encouraging until you read most of the way through the Post’s article. Then you learn:
“Experts say that high school graduation rates are an important measure of school success and academic progress, but they also say not to put too much stock in them.”
The Post cites one rather disturbing reason:
“According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” high school students have not shown academic progress in recent years: In 2015, high school seniors posted lower scores in reading than they did in 1992, and their math scores were unchanged across the past decade.”
So, it looks like more kids across the nation are getting promoted to educationally deficient high school diplomas. The increasing graduation numbers do not indicate kids are getting better educations.
Here in Kentucky, we can look at more than just scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The Bluegrass Institute has done exactly that.
One of our analysis approaches compares the state’s high school graduation rates to the proportion of those graduates who have been able to meet even one of the numerous ways they could be considered college and/or career ready.
Our research raises very disturbing questions about the lack of high school diploma quality control in Kentucky. Very simply, what is required to earn a diploma in the Bluegrass State varies dramatically across school districts.
Overall, thousands of Kentucky’s recent high school graduates probably don’t come close to meeting the math requirement and thousands also got a piece of paper but didn’t get a good enough education to be ready for either college or a career. That’s not helping the kids, and it is shortchanging Kentucky’s citizens, who are paying for this, too.