Black and Hispanic students have only a 50-50 chance of earning a high school diploma, says a report by the Harvard Civil Rights Project and the Urban Institute. The report blames the Department of Education for letting states fudge graduation rates and set “soft” improvement targets. It implies that educators have to cheat to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind.
The feds do need to get tougher on evaluating graduation rates, says Kati Haycock of the Education Trust. But the problem is too little accountability, not too much.
. . . any suggestion that high school dropouts are somehow caused by accountability is absolutely incorrect. Indeed, to suggest that accountability forces educators to harm children actually rewards irresponsibility and bad behavior. Worse still, it lets educators and the education system off the hook.
Make no mistake, this is about adult choices — professional and ethical choices. When professionals in other fields act in bad faith, no one calls for less accountability. In fact, they often call for more.
. . . Choosing to break the rules and take actions that harm children is just that: a choice. When we explain away such choices with euphemisms like “forced” or “unintended consequence,” we excuse educators from their professional and ethical obligations. We send a message to our nation’s young people that irresponsibility will be met with impunity. That is simply unacceptable.
Very well said.
Long before NCLB, states have played games with drop-out rates, hiding the large number of young people who never formally drop out but never earn a high school diploma either. It’s time to get serious.