The big news from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is mixed: North Carolina’s graduation rate is improving; however fewer schools are meeting or exceeding academic growth standards. Last week DPI released results showing the four-year graduation rate climbing to 77.7 percent, the highest ever. The graduation rate was as low as 68.3 percent in 2005-06. The improvement merits congrats but also recognition that a horrible job market probably kept many students in school who –in better economic times — would otherwise have dropped out.
DPI also released results from the annual ABC tests. Unfortunately, the news wasn’t good: only 81 percent of schools met or exceeded academic growth standards, down from last year when 88 percent of schools met expected standards. The numbers though disappointing weren’t a total surprise. The higher performance standards under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) made this year’s tests a tougher hurdle. The major question now is how states, schools and lawmakers will respond when it has become clear student progress is not meeting NCLB goals. Congress has a lot of other things on its mind and is in no hurry to reauthorize NCLB. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan is saying the Department will grant states performance waivers to exempt them from the obligations of failing to meet standards established under NCLB. …Ten years later we sit amid the ruins of another failed federal education experiment….