A Christmas Day article in the Cincinnati Enquirer (bureaucrats always want bad news published on a day when few read the paper) shows educators in Kentucky are worried about what will happen when the US government finally forces the state to get honest about high school graduation rates.
Kentucky educators know the graduation rates they have been reporting are inflated. They’ve known it for years.
The nonsense was officially audited way back in 2006, but our education department dragged its heels about fixing the problem. The dropout and graduation rate data Kentucky reports today is no better than it was when the audit was conducted.
Now, as the Enquirer points out, the US Government is stepping in to force Kentucky to report accurate graduation rates not just for all students, but also for minority groups.
Using an interim graduation rate calculation that has been found reasonably accurate in federally sponsored research, the US Department of Education claims Kentucky’s four-year high school graduation rate for all students was 76.4 percent in 2007. That is well below the 83.72 percent figure the Kentucky Department of Education claims in its Nonacademic Data reports. The difference equates to somewhere around 2,700 kids who simply vanished from Kentucky high schools without a trace – and without a high school diploma.
One comment in the Enquirer article is especially troubling. The Kentucky Department of Education excuses its failure to report even statewide graduation rate data for minorities to the US Department of Education on the grounds of protecting minority privacy.
That makes no sense.
Statewide, Kentucky has more than enough minorities in several key racial groups to report statewide data to the feds. Kentucky even reported statewide rates for minorities in its own, inflated, statistical summary. So, is this less about protecting minority privacy and more about state educators wanting to avoid embarrassment?
Anyway, only because the US Government is forcing them to do it, our state education people finally have to face the truth – and it is going to hurt.
But, maybe, just maybe, once we have better data in hand, people here will start getting serious about fixing the hidden problems in KERA. Our kids deserve no less.