Dec 11, 2016

Sunday Focus: Graduates

What does it mean to graduate from High School in Alabama?

     Federal Education officials have been looking into a surprising improvement in the graduation rate in Alabama, and have determined that the state a) did not monitor how local boards awarded class credits, and b) included "occupational certificates" to special education children. Alabama reported a grad rate of 89%,
up from 72 percent in 2012.
     When those figures were reported, I commented in the newsroom (off air) that I doubted that great of an increase was possible.

The question as far as I see it is this: are the efforts and achievements of the special ed students equal to those of the rest of the student body? And if not how should their lesser achievements be measured?

    Early this year, three Montgomery High Schools reported miserable graduation rates of as low as 71% (Lanier Senior High School), so if they were counting the certificates as diplomas, we have to presume it was not done in a way to impact that school's rate, or if they were included, that school's graduate rate is even worse.

     There should be a way to recognize the real achievements of the special needs students without artificially inflating the academic graduation rate of the rest of the students, and Alabama's Department of Education should take a leadership role in determining what that is---with approval from the Feds.


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