Georgia Dropout Rate Two Times HIgher Than Previously Reported

According to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution two times more students dropped out of Georgia schools as had previously been reported.

 The reasons for the dramatic change in numbers is because the federal government is forcing states to apply stricter national standards when measuring the graduation rate. But the newspaper also found that the discrepancy stemmed from a failure to accurately measure how many students were quitting.

Documents obtained under the state’s open records law showed that 30,751 students left high school without a diploma in the class of 2011. That is nearly double the 15,590 dropouts that were earlier reported. Under a new formula, the state’s graduation rate dropped from nearly 81 percent to about 67 percent, one of the country’s lowest.

The new formula only counts graduates who earn their diplomas in four years. Students who earn a degree in a longer period are not counted in the graduate rate.

It also appears that schools generally assumed that students who left had simply transferred to another school, even if there was no evidence to support that. In general, students were only counted as dropouts if they formally declared they were quitting. The new formula forces officials to count students who leave as dropouts unless there is evidence they enrolled elsewhere.

I agree that there needs to be a uniform way of counting school dropouts.  However I disagree that the formula of a 4 year high school graduation rate makes little sense.  We used to believe that college should take only four years to get a bachelor’s degree.  We now accept that graduation from college can take 4, 5 or even, 6 years.  Why shouldn’t we and the government acknowledge that some students will take longer to achieve mastery of material?  Is a 5 year high school diploma less valuable than a 4 year high school diploma?  Is a 6 year high school diploma less valuable than no high school diploma?