Why are graduation rates rising? In some places, quick — and dubious — fixes are responsible, reports NPR.
Many Chicago high schools mislabel departing students, for example.
They were saying they were moving out of town or going to private schools when, in reality, they were enrolling at the district’s alternative schools or, in some cases, GED programs.
. . . One school listed 120 students from the Class of 2013 as having left to be home-schooled.
Credit recovery programs, which let students earn credits after failing a class, are very, very popular — and usually not very demanding.
New Jersey requires students to take a graduation exam, but those who fail can take a second, much easier test, reports Sarah Gonzalez of WNYC. The untimed test has one question per subject.
Yet half the senior class in Camden, New Jersey failed the first and the second exam. Statewide, 1,400 students failed both exams last year, says Gonzalez. Most graduated anyhow.
There’s an appeals process. And students can submit samples of work they did in class to the state. It can be a single, graded algebra problem or a persuasive essay with a teacher’s comments on it.
. . . The mandatory high school graduation exam just isn’t a barrier to graduation anymore.
Iowa has the nation’s highest high school graduation rate at 90 percent. NPR looks at an alternative high school in Des Moines that provides intensive support to get about half its low-income, low-motivation students to the finish line.
Graduation rates aren’t exactly accurate, but they are at an all-time high, according to Nathaniel Malkus at AEI.