Atlanta – On Tuesday, Governor Sonny Perdue claimed that Georgia’s graduation rate had reached an all-time high of 80.8%. This announcement inspired congratulatory back-slapping amongst state republicans, despite the fact that it isn’t true.
“There has been much debate about how Georgia calculates graduation rates,” explained Barbara Christmas, long-time Georgia educational leader. “The Department of Education has said that our method is so deceiving, it can no longer be used as a federal guideline starting next year.”
At issue is the ‘leaver rate’, which is a method that calculates graduation rates using a proxy to estimate the number of students that start the ninth grade. “This method assumes that the number of students beginning high school is equal to the number of kids that graduate, plus the number of self-reported drop-outs over the previous four years,” said Christmas. “This is where the distortion occurs.”
In reality, many students drop-out of school without reporting to any educational authority. Some school systems simply report these kids as a transfer to another system, which keeps drop-out rates artificially lower throughout Georgia.
“For the Perdue administration to tout a bogus graduation rate as evidence of its success is a breach of faith with the citizens of our state and a huge disservice to all of our students,” continued Christmas. “Instead of pretending that our statewide graduation rate exceeds 80%, we must come to grips with the reality that it is actually closer to 60%.”
Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Jane Kidd had an explanation for the deliberate deception. “It helps inflate graduation rates in an election year,” said Kidd. “It’s a purely partisan move to improve Republican prospects at the ballot box.”
As a side note, Georgia’s education budget has been cut over $4 billion in recent years. “Republicans fail to mention that when TV cameras are around,” Kidd concluded.
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Contact: Eric Gray