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Beyond Accurate Reporting: Why Congress Should Improve Graduation-Rate Accountability in the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)


by Daniel J. Losen — May 16, 2008

The United States is facing an educational crisis. The on-time high school graduation rate in this nation is estimated at only 70 percent. This crisis is deepest for Black, Latino and Native American students, whose chances of graduating are not much more than 50% nationally, and far lower in many cities. When high numbers of youth leave school ill-prepared to contribute to our labor force and to participate meaningfully in civic life, our economy and our democracy suffer. There is an urgent need for a remedy to this crisis. The depth of the crisis and urgency of the remedy has been a subject of debate, in part, because most states and districts misleadingly report far more favorable estimates. To address this dire situation, improving the accuracy of reporting and moving away from estimates, is imperative. Solving this accuracy problem should be among the top priorities, but all the efforts to improve accuracy in reporting will leave us with the status quo if there is no accountability. The ESEA must include accountability for improving graduation rates, not just more accurate reporting. The addition of more rigorous graduation rate accountability, however, should be a central component of a comprehensive overhaul of the imbalanced, and counter-productive test-driven accountability system that currently encourages schools and districts to “push out” struggling students, if there is to be a meaningful remedy.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: May 16, 2008
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15258, Date Accessed: 12/16/2017 5:42:05 PM

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About the Author
  • Daniel Losen
    The Civil Rights Project at UCLA
    E-mail Author
    DANIEL J. LOSEN is a Senior Education Law and Policy Associate at The Civil Rights Project at UCLA and author of several studies on this subject including the chapter, “Graduation Rate Accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act and the Disparate Impact on Students of Color, in Dropouts in America: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis, Gary Orfield, editor (Harvard Education Press, 2004).
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