Back in January, Editorial Projects in Education (EPE), parent of the Education Week newspaper, released its “Quality Counts 2012” report, complete with all sorts of rankings of all the states on a variety of indicators.
State leadership in Kentucky wasted no time crowing about the fact that Kentucky somehow miraculously moved up 20 places in the overall rankings in just one year.
Helping Kentucky achieve this dubious ‘miracle’ (education statistics just don’t shift that fast) was Quality Counts own calculations for high school graduation rates, a calculation that does not follow current federal guidelines and which an extensive 2006 study found less accurate than the formula the federal government currently requires in Kentucky (see Volume 1 and Volume 2 of “Users Guide to Computing High School Graduation Rates”).
Quality Counts own graduation rate formula showed that in 2007-08 Kentucky had a rate of 72.8 percent, notably above the national rate, which supposedly was 71.7 percent.
Quality Counts actually computed graduation rates in two different areas of the rankings, once in its “Chance for Success” evaluation and again under the “K-12 Achievement” area. So, graduation rates formed an important part of Kentucky’s overall score.
Anyway, time moves on. Editorial Projects in Education just released another report, this one in print and titled “Diplomas Count.” It has updated graduation rate figures for 2008-09 on page 26, which still relies on EPE’s own graduation rate calculation.
This time, instead of a rate 1.1 points higher than the national average, Kentucky falls behind by 2.5 percentage points. Supposedly, Kentucky’s 2008-09 rate is only 70.5 percent while the national average is 72.7 percent.
Well, this EPE ‘stuff’ isn’t what a more credible calculation shows, but I bet you won’t hear anyone in Frankfort talking about this new EPE report, either.
It just goes to show how hard it is for the public to get credible, unbiased data on how its education system is really performing.