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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Graduation Rates on ELLs a Mystery

Many States, Districts Don't Track Data

By Mary Ann Zehr | Ed Week
September 15m 2009

Across the country, high school graduation rates are bemoaned with regularity. But many states and districts aren’t even tracking the rate for the fastest-growing population of students, or if they are, they aren’t telling the public how many English-language learners are leaving school with a diploma.

The No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to rectify that. Now, nearly eight years after its passage, 13 states and numerous districts still don’t report that information to the public or the U.S. Department of Education. And some of those that do are offering numbers that may not be entirely accurate.

“The previous administration didn’t do enough to get absolute clarity from states about when they would be able to report their graduation rates for English-language learners,” said Daria Hall, the director of K-12 policy development for the Education Trust, a Washington-based group that advocates high academic standards, especially for disadvantaged students. “There has been this notion of, ‘We’re working on it. We’re working on it,’ ” she said.

The NCLB law specifies that states must report graduation rates for subgroups of students, including ELLs, in their report cards. Subsequent Education Department regulations make clear that school districts must do so as well.

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