Four Years to Graduate Or No Goal?

At the conference I attended on Friday, I was very pleased to hear Chancellor Bennett’s response to my inquiry about cohort outcomes after four years of school and cohort outcomes after five years of school. Chancellor Bennett’s response to my question was extremely positive and in favor of the idea that it’s okay to take five years for students to get to graduation.

Currently, under NCLB, the four year path is the only one that counts favorably toward our graduation measure. This is a crucial measure for high schools and in one like ours, is a significant difference. I have argued here before and have written to the Commissioner about the fact that we’re keeping kids in school, we’re getting them back for the fifth year, and that should be a positive outcome.

On our most recent school report card, for the 2001 cohort, we jump from 68% graduating in four years to 76% in five years. For our male students that same figure jumps from 60% to 72%. Our students with disabilities jumps 21% in five years versus four years. Yet we continue to be held to the four year path as our standard of success.

No goal, no win at the federal level. Not fair and too narrow minded in its view of success.

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