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A False Sense of Accomplishment

Over the last few years, funding for education has increased exponentially. More than once I’ve complained that despite this significant investment, we’ve yet to see any positive results. Now, it seems that the picture is actually even bleaker than we’ve been led to believe (subscription):

Since the No Child Left Behind Act came along in 2001, New Mexico has been sending the federal government graduation rates based on the percent of seniors who earn a diploma by the end of the year.

By ignoring the thousands of students who drop out between grades nine and 11, the state has managed to post respectable graduation rates— a percentage in the mid-80s.

New Mexico had the U.S. Education Department’s full consent, but the federal government was keeping its own books, based on the number of freshmen who graduate in four years. Those calculations were coming up with graduation rates for the state in the mid-60s.

New Mexico was doing nothing unusual but, according to a March 20 article in The New York Times, it has had one of the widest gaps between state and federal figures. Only Mississippi’s was wider.

Garcia expects that to change. Starting this summer, the state will start reporting graduation rates based on entering freshmen.

By using seniors, Garcia said, the state was giving itself “a false sense of accomplishment.”

My guess is that the state has known all along just what it’s level of accomplishment has been. It’s the taxpayers they have been trying to dupe.