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Study Says Md. Reported Inflated Graduation Rate

Maryland reported higher graduation rates for high school students than found in an independent analysis disputed by state and federal education officials.

Maryland reported to the U.S. Department of Education an 85 percent graduation rate in the 2001-2002 school year, 11 percent higher than calculated by Education Trust, a Washington-based group that conducted the study.

"Many states are passing out rose-colored glasses through which to view inequitable and flawed systems," said Kevin Carey, a senior policy analyst with the advocacy group for poor and minority students. "This kind of deception undermines the likelihood of genuine improvement efforts."

Gary Heath, Maryland's testing chief, denied any distortion in the figures.

"We work with a different set of data provided by local school systems," while the Education Trust used numbers from a federal agency, Heath said. "They are working with data collected at another time and place. That there's a discrepancy doesn't surprise me."

A U.S. Education Department official also disagreed with conclusions from the study.

"No state has gotten a pass," said Eugene Hickok, acting deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige announced last week a group of experts will look at the graduation and dropout issue.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, Maryland must make yearly progress toward a 90 percent rate by 2013-2014. The figures released this year are considered baseline, carrying no rewards or penalties.

"This was an opportunity for states to take stock and look forward," Carey said.

The report by the advocacy group also said federal education officials failed to provide guidance, leadership and enforcement. They say that allowed states to hide that thousands of students -- a disproportionate number of them poor, black and Latino -- leave school without a diploma.

Maryland's graduation rate is "about in the middle" of states, Carey said.

— Associated Press
Study Says Md. Reported Inflated Graduation Rate
Washington Post


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