A New Way of Counting School Dropouts

Even though the current administration has a few days left, Margaret Spellings, the Secretary of Education in the Bush Administration has issued new regulations to make schools more accountable for high school dropout rates. All states will need to implement a uniform tracking system to determine how many students graduate on time and how many drop out. Schools have used a variety of methods to report dropouts, graduates, and transfers, many of which underestimated dropout rates and inflated graduation rates, according to the federal government.

The rules also require raising graduation rates for all students, including minorities and students with special needs. A school might have a high overall graduation rate, but still have a low rate for minority students or those with disabilities. States are allowed to set their own targets for improvement, and the federal government cannot force states to set more ambitious goals. But U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said it can make states accountable publicly for failing to graduate more students.